Ah, the strange morality of the US. You can invade another country and kill thousands on extremely dodgy evidence and arguments of the government and this does not merit an enquiry. Show a little bit too much flesh on prime-time TV and the world is coming to an end. But, wait, the Bush Junta has finally announced that an "independent" enquiry in pre-war intelligence is to be arranged. By strange co-incidence, Tony "I have no reverse gear" Blair announces he, too, will hold a similarly "independent" enquiry after months of saying he won't. Not that he is a poodle, or anything.
The Bush Junta's priorities are easily seen. When the space shuttle exploded, an enquiry was set up instantly and soon found the reasons for the disaster in months. We are still waiting for the enquiry for September 11th to report. The Bush Junta is stonewalling it. What are they hiding? Who knows for sure? One thing we do know for sure, no one has been charged with organising the crime. No one, regardless of what Bush asserts, has been brought to justice (unless assassination and detention without trail is now justice).
Both of the new "independent" enquiries have a lot in common. Both are made up of appointees of the government under investigation. Both have a narrow remit, looking purely at the intelligence and not the use of it by the government's in question. So Bush and Blair's new enquiries are dead-ends, sideshows to divert attention from the real issues. And to delay things until after the US election. After all, according to the Observer, American officials knew in May of last year that Iraq possessed no WMD. According to David Albright, a former UN nuclear inspector with close contacts in both the world of weapons inspection and intelligence, "It was known in May that no one was going to find large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. The only people who did not know that fact was the public." We can take it for granted that this inquiry, as well as being staffed by the Bush's men, will not touch on this fact. And what it means for the enquiry.
Perhaps some useful information will be produced in the sessions, but as Hutton proved mere evidence will not get in the way of the correct decision. Although, after the Hutton backlash, we can expect any future Blair appointed "independent" enquiry to be less slavish to its master.
Fight the causes, not just the symptoms
The inquiries are, apparently, looking into "intelligence failures" which is, of course, pre-empting their conclusions just a little. Unless, of course, they are talking about the mental failings of Bush in which case there is little need. But Bush and his many personal failings is not the problem. Never has been. Neither is Blair the problem. They are just symptoms of the reason cause, namely a socio-economic system based on hierarchy, profit and power.
Getting rid Blair and Bush, as desirable as it may be, would not stop imperialist aggression in the future. To think otherwise would imply that the whole state bureaucracy is a pliable tool which simply executes the will of the government. In reality, it is the bureaucracy which calls the shots and would (and has!) systematically undermine any policies which harmed the state or the interests of the capitalist class. The fact is, the majority within the US and UK elites wanted to invade Iraq. The "anti-war" grouping, while sizeable, was not sufficient to stop Bush and the interests he was the figurehead for. It is due to this split in the ruling elite which allowed the anti-war movement more media coverage than it usually gets. That and its size, of course, which reflected the obvious nonsense Bush and Blair were sprouting.
Blair is somewhat different. If a more pro-Europe PM was in office, it is likely that the UK would have sided with the elites of France and Germany. However, such a development seems unlikely for the time being. The interests of the UK are tied to the US and will continue to be so for some time to come. In the unlikely event of a pro-EU PM being elected, it can be guaranteed that any "EU friendly" policies would go the same way as Robin Cook's "ethnical" foreign policy. The UK will remain the poodle of the US due to the commonality of transnational companies and their need for an effective global goon.
No signs of intelligence
In the US, former weapons inspector David Kay has admitted that there were never WMD in Iraq. He is attacking the intelligence community rather than the Bush Junta. In this he aims to get Bush off the hook. Unsurprisingly, the Junta is pushing the line that they were misled by the intelligence community. Sadly, this excuse ignores three facts.
Firstly, members of the Bush Junta created their own bodies to produce the required "evidence" when it became clear that the normal agencies would not provide the desired goods. It is a fact that Rumsfeld set up his own intelligence gathering unit because he wasn't happy with what the CIA was giving him. The Office of Special Plans (OSP) was located in the Pentagon and was under the control of neo-conservatives. Senior intelligence officers were kept in the dark about the OSP, which was cherry picking intelligence and packaging it for public consumption.
Secondly, the numerous intelligence community's warnings to the White House on the lack of evidence, warnings the Bush Junta systematically ignored. Indeed, it was precisely because of these qualms the Junta that it created the OSP.
Thirdly, constant pressure was applied to the intelligence agencies to force their compliance. In one case, a senior intelligence officer who refused to buckle under was removed. Senior White House officials went to the CIA's headquarters to argue with mid-level managers and analysts about unfinished work, giving a clear impression of what was required. Analysts were brow-beaten into submission.
Which is unsurprising. What is surprising is why they did not do "Blue Peter" moment and simply produce something they prepared earlier. So we have a big debate over Blair's obvious lie about Iraqi WMD being ready to use in 45 minutes. It seems that they are arguing over whether the lie referred to non-existent battlefield weapons or non-existent medium range missiles -- which is missing the point slightly. So Bush and Blair were lying. Just as they are lying now about their previous lies.
A bit thick...
So what of these "intelligence failures"? "We were all wrong," asserted David Kay to members of the US Congress. Sorry, did he miss the millions of people who took to the streets last February? Did he do a "Hoon" and fail to look at the papers that day? What of the French and German governments? They argued for the time required by the UN weapons inspectors to do their job. Time, Blair and Bush insisted, we simply did not have -- the threat was "imminent" and had to be dealt with before a small, impoverished third-world crippled after a decade of sanctions attacked the strongest and best armed nation in the world.
Not that the Bush Junta actually used the word "imminent," of course. Just as they have rewrote the history on WMD they want to rewrite history on that too. No, they now stress, we never, ever used the word "imminent." We just used lots of words which are direct synonyms for "imminent." Oh, and we agreed with journalists who used the word "imminent" to describe the threat from Iraq. Oh, and we never once corrected the media about their use of the word "imminent" either. So, clearly, it would be wrong to say that Bush lied about the "imminent" threat of Saddam's regime.
Anyone believing the nonsense of the Bush Junta does suffer from a massive failure of intelligence...
Programs, programs, programs
But that was then, this is now. Bush should just come clean. Clearly the reason why his weapons inspectors found nothing is because Iraq is full of hypothetical weapons. As the weapons have not been made yet, little wonder the inspectors could not find them. Saddam: what an evil genius!
Thus we have come from seeking to acquire weapons, to having them to now just wanting to have them. All after Colin Powell (and Blair) had proclaimed in 2001 that Iraq was no threat and that sanctions were working. They were right. So what to make of Powell's statement at the UN a year ago "every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence"? Only one conclusion can be drawn from this.
Or there are Bush's words to his subjects in the run-up to war. Now Bush repeats the mantra that intelligence is always unreliable. Then he was equally sure of the opposite and made the statement that "intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised." The intelligence "leaves no doubt". Today we see the head of the CIA stating that they included "caveats" in all its analysis of Iraq's WMD, noting disagreements between analysts and possibilities of error. So "no doubt" seems like another of Bush's infamous "misstatements" (the current Newspeak word for lies).
And according to The Independent, Blair's government has already admitted in a report released recently that it knew well before Parliament voted on the war that the claims in the September dossier were almost certainly false. It states that the intelligence services had already reported, before the war began, that Iraq's ballistic missiles had probably been dismantled and that the presence of UN weapons inspectors was making it difficult for Iraq to threaten anyone with weapons of mass destruction. Opps.
Been there, done that
It seems amazing that people have given these muppets such power (although to be fair to the Americans they did not actually vote for Bush). Bush happily sent others to die in a war of his choosing, something he refused to do himself in Vietnam (thankfully, the media is picking up Bush's AWOL). It is obvious that their intelligence was cherry-picked, came from unreliable sources and plagiarized from old student reports. They must not be allowed to remain in control of some of the most powerful states in the world. But this is not enough. Changing the faces does not change the system which produced them and shaped their decisions. A glance at history would confirm this.
The US has a long history of aggression cloaked under fine rhetoric. The wars against the Native Americans. The seizure of half of Mexico. The Spanish-American War ensured a fifty-year control of Cuba and was started by a falsehood. The brutal conquest of the Philippines. The repeated military interventions to install dictatorships in Central America on behalf of US corporations. The overthrowing of democratically-elected governments in Iran, Guatemala, Chile. The invasion of Vietnam, justified by the invented Gulf of Tonkin incident. The invasion of Panama. The list is long.
Yet this time is different. Previous lies were exposed years later, not within months. Bush's assertions on the reason for war have been subject to much scrutiny, although not enough before the war, when it could have made a difference (proving, incidentally, the role of the media as purveyors of the opinions of the powerful rather than actual news). And they have been proven utterly false. Bush has been caught red-headed lying about war. And yet there are no calls for impeachment. Clearly, for the "Christian" right, lying about sex is much worse than lying about the reasons for war (a case of make war not love?). As Janet Jackson would probably agree, the morality of the US elite seems a tad strange. Even stranger than her brother. And that is saying something.
But does all this matter? Some seem to say that the ends justifies the means. However, the means shape the ends. And as Iraq shows, imposing imperial power will produce occupation, not liberation. And resistance. The Iraqi people are not free and will not be free until they US is forced to withdraw by means of a mass movement within Iraq, supported by a vigorous anti-war movement in the west. As for the "the world is a safer place because an evil tyrant is gone" argument, well, the best that can be said is that its defenders are suffering from "Hoon syndrome" and failing to read the papers or see the news. Iraq is now a hotbed of terrorism with an uncertain future. The people of Iraq are paying the price of America's imperial designs, along with the working class US and UK soldiers who are doing the corporations' dirty work. Soldiers whose injuries are not even worth reporting on or, for Bush, whose funerals are worth attending. Who can blame him? If he wanted to see soldiers killed in the interests of US imperialism he could have went to fight in Vietnam. Luckily daddy saved him from that.
As anarchists argued before the war, the Iraqi people can only free themselves. Being internationalists, our duty was to support them in overthrowing Saddam brutal regime by whatever means we can. However, imposing "freedom" upon them was doomed to failure as it, by definition, cannot be imposed. As the invasion shows, it simply means changing masters. After the war, our position remains unchanged. The Iraqi people can only free themselves from imperialist occupation and oppression. The means are important, of course. Only a mass movement from below can ensure the Iraqis will not simply change foreign bosses with local ones. Hopefully the rise in trade unions and unemployed workers organisations show that the Iraqi working class is finding its feet and its voice. If Iraq has a future, it is there, in the class organisations being built by its populations.