No Memo Required
For the record: The so-called "Downing Street Memos" provide us with some truly valuable bits of evidence that the British Prime Minister and other ruling Labour Party ministers and advisors not only engaged in a joint criminal conspiracy with their superiors in Washington, the explicit purpose of which was to militarily seize Iraqi territory -- an enterprise that culminated in the unprovoked war of aggression of March, 2003. But also that
Now, aside from counting as the mother of all smoking guns -- the elementary fact that it was the Bush and Blair regimes' decision to initiate the war in the first place, and not Iraq's -- and for this little bit of news, no memo is required -- one of the most important bits of evidence of the criminal conspiracy between the U.S. and U.K. derives from the minutes of the meeting between Tony Blair and several of the top Labour Party figures on July 23, 2002:
The Defence Secretary said that the
Remember that phrase "spikes of activity." According to Michael Smith ("The War Before the War," New Statesman, May 30, 2005), the British reporter who has done more than anyone else to place these memos before the bar of history, what Geoff Hoon, the former British Defense Secretary meant by this phrase
becomes clear in the light of information elicited from the government by the Liberal Democrat Sir Menzies Campbell, who asked the Ministry of Defence about British and American air activity in 2002 in the southern no-fly zone of Iraq - the zone created to protect southern Shias after Saddam Hussein brutally suppressed their 1991 uprising against him.
The MoD response shows that in March 2002 no bombs were dropped, and in April only 0.3 tonnes of ordnance used. The figure rose to 7.3 tonnes in May, however, then to 10.4 in June, dipping to 9.5 in July before rising again to 14.1 in August.
Suddenly, in other words, US and British air forces were in action over
There were very strict rules of engagement in the no-fly zones. The allied pilots were authorised to fire missiles at any Iraqi air defence weapon or radar that fired at them or locked on to their aircraft. As was noted in Foreign Office legal advice appended to the July 2002 briefing paper, they were only "entitled to use force in self-defence where such a use of force is a necessary and proportionate response to actual or imminent attack from Iraqi ground systems".
That May, however, Donald Rumsfeld had ordered a more aggressive approach, authorising allied aircraft to attack Iraqi command and control centres as well as actual air defences.
What happened next was dramatic. In September, the amount of ordnance used in the southern no-fly zone increased sharply to 54.6 tonnes. It declined in October to 17.7 tonnes before rising again to 33.6 tonnes in November and 53.2 tonnes in December. The spikes were getting taller and taller.
In fact, as it became clear that Saddam Hussein would not provide them with the justification they needed to launch the air war, we can see that the allies simply launched it anyway, beneath the cloak of the no-fly zone. In the early hours of 5 September, for example, more than a hundred allied aircraft attacked the H-3 airfield, the main air defence site in western
It would be another nine weeks before Blair and Bush went to the UN to try to persuade it to authorise military action, but the air war had begun anyway. The number of raids shot up, from four a month to 30, with allied aircraft repeatedly returning to sites they had already hit to finish them off. Senior British officials insist that no RAF aircraft opened fire until it was at least locked on to by an Iraqi radar, but it is difficult to see how the systematic targeting of Iraqi installations could have constituted "a necessary and proportionate response".
The story of the secret air war dovetails neatly with the other evidence from the leaked documents, further demonstrating why, even after the general election [in 2005], Blair's efforts to dispel the allegations about the background to war and get the country to "move on" seem doomed to fail.
To reiterate the tonnage of bombs reportedly dropped by the British Royal Air Force on targets in southern
Tonnage of Bombs March 2002 0 April 2002 0.3 May 2002 7.3 June 2002 10.4 July 2002 9.5 August 2002 14.1 September 2002 54.6 October 2002 17.7 November 2002 33.6 December 2002 53.2
Tonnage of Bombs
In light of the ongoing revelations about these "spikes of activity" over the skies of Iraq, I have decided to archive here links to a large number of documents that the Iraqi Government itself had filed with the UN Security Council and Secretary-General over the course of the roughly 19 months before the official start of the American and British war on March 19-20, 2003. (The exact dates depending on where one lives.)
Typically, these Iraqi documents took the form of letters from
Thus the "spikes of activity" by the
Of course, the guiding thread throughout all of this remains the absolute commitment on the part of the American and British political leadership to state violence and aggressive, predatory conduct with respect to Iraq, even as the American and British governments and their advocates back on the home front projected onto the Iraqis the very attributes that they themselves not only possess, but exemplify.
Instead, the American and British governments went out of their way to pretend that it was Iraq, that it was the dread Saddam (a man who name and images long ago became artifacts of Western propaganda), with his "weapons of mass destruction" and his sponsorship of the Al Qaeda hijackers of 9/11, that initiated the war. Or, in the very least, that then posed so great a threat to the civilized world, the threat he posed gave the Americans and the British (and any other state that would tag along with them---Australia, to name one) the right to take "pre-emptive" and "self-defensive" action to counter the threat.
To quote just one of the literally hundreds of letters having been drafted in the name of the Iraqi Government and addressed to the Security Council and the Secretary-General over the 12 years between the first and second wars over Iraq (October 20, 2001: S/2001/995):
On instructions from my Government, I have the honour to transmit to you herewith a letter dated 20 October 2001 from Mr. Naji Sabri, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the
(Signed) Mohammed A. Al-Douri
I cannot tell you whether the Secretary-General obliged the Iraqi Ambassador, and circulated his letter. Or whether the Secretary-General even understood the meaning of the words with which it was written. But I can tell you that the documents linked below show a beleaguered regime encircled by a predatory superpower. With the one institution in the world to which the regime could turn to plead its case and to seek collective protection instead having aligned itself with the predatory superpower. At a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives. And the destruction of any hope for an international order governed by the rule of law. Except in those cases when the laws can be crafted so as to coincide with and advance the ever-shifting needs of the predatory superpower.
For your archives: A few words on how the sources catalogued below work: In all instances, the date refers to the date of the original Iraqi document -- not the date placed on it by the UN bibliographic system, which often is later than the document's date of origination. The second piece of information refers to the UN bibliographic system's "Document Symbol." Note also that in all instances, the best I've been able to do is direct readers to the UN bibliographic system's file for each document, wherefrom readers will be able to access the actual document in question. Unfortunately, there is no way around this problem. The UN system simply is set up to work in this proximate fashion.
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March 24, 2003 (S/2003/362) [Letter of Iraq as Chairman of the Arab Group to the President of the Security Council requesting the "convening of an urgent session for the Security Council with regard to halting the American-British aggression and the immediate withdrawal of the invading forces outside the international boundaries of the Republic of Iraq and reconfirming Iraq's sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity and preventing all States from interfering in its internal affairs."]