Mark Thomas asks if the WMDs were in a flat-pack
Maybe Saddam had his WMDs in a flat-pack. Maybe he had the instructions spread all over the palace f
How Tony Blair must wish those initials WMD would slip out of the public consciousness. How he must wish those initials could join the ranks of those abbreviations now barely recalled, their use a sign of ageing, like OMD or TTFN. How he must wish WMD had the same grip on the public imagination as those initials IDS.
So who is to blame for the false reports on WMDs? This is a hard one: I don't rightly know who I mistrust more, Blair or the security services. There hasn't been this much even-handed contempt and hatred in my life since the Hamiltons took Al Fayed to court.
Rarely, though, has a dossier gone from being "sexed up" to "fucked up" so quickly. Saddam could launch a WMD attack in 45 minutes, the dossier famously bellowed, as if he was even more dastardly now that he had bio-warfare scuds in kit form. Maybe they were in a flat-pack, and that's why they were never assembled in time. As the Americans and Brits invaded, he had the instructions spread all over the palace living room floor, frantically muttering that "they never look like they do in the picture". Maybe, Allen key in hand, he promised "the mother of all battles . . . just as soon as I find those two dowelling pins".
The 45-minutes-from-apocalypse story was only a small part of the Blair and Bush deceptions. There was also the plagiarising of the student's thesis, based on out-of-date information, that was downloaded from the internet and passed off as "intelligence".
The so-called "evidence" of Saddam Hussein's links with uranium and Niger turned out to be a bad forgery, according to Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency. If the evidence was not "sexed up" for political reasons, we can only assume that the security services are staffed by the cast of The Office, or by a bunch of lads from Ilford frantically trying to finish their work after a lunchtime session on a Friday. Giggling and jacketless, the lads are shouting: "Oi, Tel, I've found this student's stuff on the net!" "Bung it in, bung it in, oo's gonna know. It's Saddam, innit? 'E's a fucka. So it's probly true, an' if it ain't, it should be."
Claims of the existence of Iraq's WMDs are now so discredited that even if the US does actually find them it will have to announce the story in the National Enquirer, alongside headlines of Elvis sightings and "18-stone trout made love to Liz Taylor all night long".
Then, to cap it all, John Reid appears and blames "rogue elements". Why the government chose Reid to represent it is a mystery. No one trusts him, as he looks like he's just been released under the Good Friday Agreement, and behaves as if he shouldn't have been.
Yet none of this matters to the "liberal imperialists". That the US and UK public has been lied to, deceived, manipulated and ignored is a minor fact. That Saddam's threat to the west was inflated is irrelevant. Who cares if the war is illegal? Who cares if al-Qaeda has had its biggest recruiting drive ever? Or if Iraq is a staging post for US empire, leading to Iran? Let the dead Iraqi civilians be the stepping stones to liberation in Syria! Let us rejoice that Saddam is gone; let us cheer amid the rubble and broken water pipes, at the debt and looted hospitals, as western governments strut, pretending to solve the problems they have created.
"Liberal imperialism" is not a philosophy, it is an excuse. If it was a real, bona fide philosophy, then North Korea should be "liberated" - whereas that isn't going to happen for one very good reason: the Koreans actually do have WMDs.
Those living under undemocratic regimes, those who face the daily abuse of their human rights - from Saudi Arabia, Aceh Province, Colombia, Turkey, Burma and other states that don't quite fall into Bush and Blair's care list - are the unseen victims.
On 30 May, Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Burma's National League for Democracy, was attacked, injured and arrested by the dictatorship's version of the Hitler Youth. A massacre occurred; it appears, from eyewitness accounts, that between 60 and 100 people were killed. The league's offices across the country have been shut down. What does our noble government, that believes so heartily in democracy, do? It signs a mild condemnation of the regime by the EU. It was the political equivalent of someone clearing their throat.
The Burmese people have called for trade sanctions, but that would be acting in solidarity with people, rather than out of the patronising self-interest so exemplified by Bush and Blair. It is ironic that our "democratic" government is such a bad role model for the democratic aspirations of Burma.
I guess that is the problem with democracy: we have let the politicians control it, which is like leaving the monks in charge of the lubricant . . . All right, bad example, but you get the idea.