Almost eight years ago, the choir of British liberalism
celebrated a new age. Tony Blair, wrote the liberal thinker Hugo Young, "wants
to create a world none of us have known," a world which "ideology
has surrendered entirely to 'values' [and where] there are no sacred cows
no fossilized limits to the ground over which the mind might range in search
of a better Britain." Besotted minds ranged far. In a Tonier-than-thou
piece for the Guardian, Martin Kettle hilariously declared Blair an honorary
Australian. "He is not in awe of the past," he wrote. "He is
not intimidated by class. He is a meritocrat, a doer.
He is simply happy
making his own history.
It would be nice to think that one day these
would be thought of as British characteristics, too." Former Labour Party
deputy leader Roy Hattersley described one of the most ideological regimes in
modern British history as "untainted by dogma"; Blair was "taking
the politics out of politics.""Goodbye, xenophobia," was the
Observer's postelection front page, and "The Foreign Office says,
'Hello world, remember us?'" The Blair government, said the paper, would
push for "new worldwide rules on human rights" and implement "tough
new limits on arms sales."
Let's pause to consider the truth. When Blair demonstrably lied about weapons
of mass destruction in order to help an extremist regime launch an unprovoked
attack on Iraq, a defenseless country, the Foreign Office's deputy legal adviser
Elizabeth Wilmshurst resigned, calling it, correctly, a "crime of aggression."
The blood shed by more than 100,000 civilians killed and 300,000 injured is
her and our witness. Now consider the "tough new limits on arms sales."
A study by ActionAid reveals that the Blair government has sold weapons to 14
impoverished African countries where there is internal conflict. The people
of Aceh, stricken by last year's tsunami, have been terrorized by British-supplied
Hawk fighter jets, machine guns, and ammunition. Britain is a world leader in
the export of small arms, even depleted uranium.
Almost everything about a Blair regime was known before it was elected. Blair's
Vichy-like devotion to Washington was known: read his speeches about a new order
led by America . His devotion to Rupert Murdoch, who flew him and Cherie Booth
around the world first class, was known. His devotion to an extreme neoliberal
Thatcherite economics was known, spelled out in Peter Mandelson's and Roger
Blair Revolution: Can New Labour Deliver?, in which Britain's "economic
strengths" are listed as multinational corporations, the "aerospace"
(arms) industry and "the preeminence of the City of London." His class
contempt for the poor was known; his pre-election attacks on single mothers
passed quickly into law, assisted by the majority of his new, opportunistic
Those trying to cover for Blair and "move on" from Iraq refer to the
reduction of poverty as one of his "achievements." In fact, relative
poverty in childless households in the UK has reached record levels under Blair,
up to 13 percent and a greater number than under Margaret Thatcher or
John Major. A certain PC-ism, such as the sound and fury over dropping the gay
age of consent, adds to the illusion of a Labour government that, had it not
fallen in with the awful Bush, would be celebrated as "progressive."
Tell that to the people of a faraway country, more than half of whom are children,
whose lives have been devastated by the fanatical Blair and his court of apologists.
Read the robotic Hoon's statement on the use of cluster bombs how Iraqi mothers
would one day be "grateful" for the use of weapons that killed their
children and Ministry of Defense letters to the public that lie about
depleted uranium and its Hiroshima effect. The silence of those who regard themselves
as commissars of this country's and Europe's respectable, moral, liberal class
is quite disgusting.
In a superb piece in the Guardian on Feb. 24, Victoria
Brittain asked: "How can it be that not one mainstream public figure
in Europe has denounced [Bush's systematic torture regime]?" She points
out that The
Torture Papers more than 1,200 pages of government memos and
reports, edited at New York University shows systematic torture, approved
and directed from on high. Such is the regime of a man with whom Blair "shares
values." I thought of this when I noted the current debate in the Church
of England about the "rift" caused by the "issue" of gay
marriage. Compare that with the "issue" of the slaughter of tens of
thousands of innocent people, about which not a word is heard from those who
claim moral courage as a deity. Read the searing account of Dr. Salam Ismael,
who took aid to Fallujah in January. He
describes the ordeal of a 17-year-old girl, Hudda Fawzi. Her father opened
the door to U.S. Marines who shot him and a friend dead, then shot her elder
sister, having beaten her senseless, then destroyed the family's furniture.
Wounded people were dragged from their homes and run over by tanks; a clinic
was destroyed by missiles. "It became clear to us," Ismael wrote,
"that we were witnessing the aftermath of a massacre, the cold-blooded
butchery of helpless and defenseless civilians."
It is not surprising that the Blair government has refused Ismael fresh permission
to visit and speak out in Britain. His testimony, and that of many other reliable
witnesses, is known and feared. Last April, the U.S. command agreed that it
may well have slaughtered as many as 600 people in Fallujah. When a listener
asked Judy Swallow, presenter of the BBC World Service Newshour program,
why the BBC continued to suppress this truth, Swallow sent this e-mail to a
colleague: "Oh God, Mike do you take care of these sorts of things,
or do we ignore them?" On the BBC Web site, she describes Newshour
as "exposing injustice and challenging lies." The silence is almost
never broken by those paid to "expose injustice and challenge lies,"
let alone set the record straight. On Channel 5, a member of the public, Neil
Coppendale from Shoreham-by-Sea, confronted Blair with this question: "Bearing
in mind that tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and children have died
as a result of the invasion of Iraq, how do you sleep at night, Mr. Blair?"
When did a journalist, one with privileged access to Blair, ever ask that? For
their part, the BBC's Downing Street man Andrew Marr (apparently together with
his wife) and his colleague from the Today program James Naughtie have
been over to the prime minister's country home,Chequers, to sup with the killer
Blair. It was Marr who, at the fall of Baghdad, told viewers that Blair had
"said they would be able to take Baghdad without a bloodbath, and in the
end the Iraqis would be celebrating, and on both these points he has been proved
conclusively right." And it is Naughtie who has played a leading role in
the British American Project, set up by Ronald Reagan to find a "successor
generation" to those who propagated the Cold War on America's behalf.
If shame has no place in what is called "public life," then the rest
of us should break their silence for them. The Guardian says the electorate
is "cross" with Blair. Cross? Such a genteel word. Supporting Blair,
in his propaganda and his contemptuous need for another term of office, is supporting