Watch Out For Scuds On The London Underground
Watch Out For Scuds On The London Underground
Could anyone have a more useless job than those weapons inspectors in Iraq? Does anyone honestly believe there is any vague chance that George Bush might say "Well, fair enough, we couldn't find anything so it's nice to know that he's mended his ways." And then the Pentagon would call off the war, as long as Saddam went on a self-help programme at "Dictators Anonymous", standing up to say: "my name is Saddam and it's now two years and five weeks since I gassed my own people."
The pointlessness is displayed in a tabloid headline: "Iraqis risk Bush's wrath with another arms denial." So to please Bush rather than anger him, they'd have had to say: "I tell you what, we're overflowing with mass destruction gear. It's in the airing cupboard, the one place your blokes didn't look. We've got A bombs, N bombs, a machine for giving everyone in the world Mad Cow Disease. To be honest we'd be grateful if you could take some of it off our hands; we're running out of storage space."
It's like a witch trial from the 12th century. If they're caught, they're guilty, if they're not caught they must be guilty. Which is why the Americans wouldn't let anyone else see the 12,000 word document from Iraq that detailed their weapons itinerary. Even if this document proved Iraq had no weapons, the Americans would say it was a shameful work requiring a land war in response, on grounds of bad grammar and unclear use of tenses. Or that the plot was thinly developed, the love scenes were overlong and the character of Tariq Aziz was left hopelessly unresolved, and the only solution was regime change so this could be cleared up in the sequel.
Everything in the world is now proof that Iraq must be invaded. Yesterday's evidence of a Saddam plot was a shipload of Scuds going from one country to another, neither of which was Iraq. In any case, Scuds are the size of a large truck so they're hardly the most practical weapons to use for terror. Even the doziest guard on London Underground would notice someone trying to sneak one on to the Piccadilly Line.
British politicians nod and repeat every one of Bush's farcical pronouncements, so that together, Bush and the British cabinet sound like these pairs of old women talking on buses. Bush says: "He's proved himself as a monster prepared to use weapons of mass destruction," and Geoff Hoon says: "Yes, weapons of mass destruction, hmm, yes, destruction." Bush says: "He's a threat to the civilised world," and Jack Straw says: "Oo yes, a threat to the civilised world, and you've got to be careful these days."
Most galling is when British politicians repeat the Bush mantra on Saddam's human rights record. In almost every statement a minister makes on the issue, they remind us that "this is a man who gassed his own people". Which is true, and the incident they refer to involved chemical weapons against the Kurds in Halabja in 1988. Human rights groups condemned the attack immediately, and a motion was put forward in parliament, but Jack Straw, who now uses the incident as a reason for a global conflict, didn't support it. Nor did Blair. Nor did Prescott. Nor did Blunkett. Nor did Hoon. Because at the time Britain was backing Saddam. Now, all of a sudden, they're appalled by this act. It's like if Alex Ferguson announced he was bombing Roy Keane, and if anyone objected he said: "But he's been a dirty fouling bastard."
More recently, in January 2001 an Iraqi refugee, who'd been detained and tortured by the good people of the Iraqi state, had an application for asylum rejected by the Home Office. The letter read: "The Secretary of State (Jack Straw) is aware that the Iraqi security forces would only convict and sentence a person in the courts with the provision of a proper jurisdiction. He is satisfied that, if there are any charges against you, you could expect to receive a fair trial under an independent and properly constituted judiciary." Perhaps Jack Straw is under the impression there are two Iraqs, one an evil regime packed with weapons of mass destruction, and the other a charming happy-go-lucky village that comes under Hereford county council. This Government's warmongering wouldn't be more hypocritical if they declared Iraq had to be bombed as it had introduced tuition fees for students and refused to give its firefighters the same pay rise it gave to its politicians.
None of this is to suggest Saddam isn't a monster, only that the impending war has nothing to do with his monsterness. If only he was more shrewd, instead of presenting that belligerent warrior image, he would find more effective ways of winning over world opinion. For example, he could get Mrs Hussein to announce: "If I've made a mistake then I'm sorry, but all I was trying to do, was protect my family, sniff, with just a few weapons of mass destruction, sniff, destruction, pause, just like any mother would do." And who, in their right minds, wouldn't go, "Oh you've got to feel for her, haven't you?"