Saturday, May 03, 2003
Will Tony Blair Resign
If He Turns Out to Have Lied About
The "Weapons of Mass Destruction"?
by Sean Gabb

Last Wednesday in Parliament, Tony Blair was asked a question by Sir Peter Tapsell, the Conservative Member for Louth and Horncastle. Here is the question:
If it eventually transpires at the time of our invasion, that Iraq no longer produced weapons of mass destruction capable of threatening this country, and the Prime Minister led this country into war under a false assumption, will he resign?

Even today, the rules of the House of Commons are strict about the use of language, and it is not permitted to accuse another Member of lying. Therefore the odd use of the words “a false assumption”. But the meaning of the question was plain. Just as plainly, it was not possible for the Prime Minister to give a straight answer. Those of us who are not Members of Parliament are free from the constraints under which Sir Peter asked his question. It is now undeniable that the Prime Minister lied us into the war with Iraq.

It will not do, weeks after the end of the war, for the Allies to find a few barrels of some forbidden chemical. We were assured by Mr Blair not that the Iraqis had forbidden chemicals, or even that they were a danger to each other and their immediate neighbours, but that they had chemical and biological weapons capable of being used against this country. We were further assured that these could be deployed against us within 45 minutes. Nor will it do even if such weapons are eventually “found”. That the United Nations weapons inspectors have been forbidden access to the country to continue their search for such weapons - that the man most likely to have been complicit in any hiding of them has stated in a news conference before giving himself up to the Americans that there were none - must bring any future discovery into obvious doubt. There is also the fact that the Iraqis never once used any unconventional weapons in defending their country against invasion. They had good warning that their country was about to be invaded. They had good reason to use whatever weapons they had. Failing this, they had good reason to call on the connections we were assured to exist with some international terrorist conspiracy. They did nothing. Their armies were the ill-equipped and ill-disciplined conscripts usual to the third world dump that Iraq turned out to be.

In this war, 2,500 Iraqi civilians and 10,000 Iraqi combatants are believed to have been killed. Certainly, 105 American and 32 British soldiers were killed, together with at least ten journalists. 17 million Iraqis now rely on charity for their food; and another 40,000 in Baghdad for water. The American Government so far has spent $55 billion on fighting the war, and the British Government £3 billion. The estimated cost - to the American taxpayers largely - of rebuilding Iraq is another $100 billion. No weapons of mass destruction - certainly none capable of use against either America or Britain - have been found. No evidence has turned up of any but the slightest communication with al Qa’eda.

It seems that the American Government always intended to invade Iraq, and was not interested in the truth of whatever claims were made to justify the invasion. That is a matter for the American people to take up with their government, not for us. But it is our concern, here in this country, that our own government lied to us.

It is not possible to say that Mr Blair was deceived by the security chiefs. Even if he had been, he appointed or retained them, and he is formally responsible for their actions. But they did not deceive him. Robin Cook, who resigned from the Government over the invasion, was a senior Minister and a former Foreign Secretary. He had no information about any Iraqi threat. Mr Blair stood up in the House of Commons and lied to Parliament and to all of us. He took us into a war that was not in our interest, that killed thousands - and might easily have killed hundreds of thousands - that has cost us billions, and that may not for many years have revealed its full cost to us. He lied us into war and thousands into early graves.

I know that some of my readers will shrug and ask “so what?” They had their own reasons for supporting the war, and regarded the talk of an immediate threat as a useful fiction. But, while I do not believe any of these reasons was enough to justify the war, I will not argue with them. All I will do is suggest that, while Mr Blair may have been useful to get us into the war, he has now served his purpose. Whatever was meant to be achieved has been achieved, or will now be achieved without his continuation in office. At the same time, every day that he continues in office is a continuation of the attack on our cultural identity as a people and therefore on our personal freedoms. We cannot even be sure that he will allow his policy on Europe to stay in ruins.

The war is over, and it is time to return to domestic issues. Mr Blair remains the most dangerous man in the country, and so it is necessary to do what we can to help remove him from office. The local authority elections went badly for him yesterday, and would certainly have gone still worse were the Conservatives not mostly in political hibernation. Even so, the more intelligent Conservatives are asking about the weapons of mass destruction. The electors are willing to hear the questions. Whatever differences I and the majority of my British readers may have had over the war, the time has come, I suggest, for all of us to join in the questions. Perhaps not even a liar so inveterate as Mr Blair may be able to answer them.


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