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The questions Blair will never ask himself

So, the slippery shit is in the dock at last – not quite. He’s not under oath and he won’t be taken afterwards to a place of execution, but right this moment, Blair is finally on the spot over Iraq. Or is he? Will he face the killer questions? There are only two.

The papers are full of it this morning – many pushing “ten questions Blair will face”. They each have their own ten – some better than others. The Guardian’s is a list he’d have no trouble evading. The Daily Mail’s a bit tougher – Edward Heathcoat-Amory gets close: “Did you mislead Parliament and the public over Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction? ” But that isn’t quite there Edward. That still gives him wriggle room.

Here’s the two questions – and apologies to those who’ve been reading me push the same points for the past eight years, but as even the press are getting close to the same nub, I must be onto something…

1) Did you see any evidence for Iraq’s possession of development of WMD that wasn’t also presented to the JIC?

2) If you did not, then we must conclude that we have now seen all the evidence that you saw, so why did you tell the Commons on Sept 24th, 2002, that the intel for Iraq’s WMD was “extensive, detailed and authoritative” when we know, as absolute fact, that it was nothing of the sort?.  Your assertion in the Commons then substantiated your claims that Iraq had “chemical and biological weapons, that Saddam has continued to produce them, that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes, including against his own Shia population, and that he is actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability.” None of it true. None of it.

Am I close to Amory’s question then? No. Asking Blair about the WMD is a mistake – he can simply say, we were wrong. He can simply say, the intel was wrong. Anyone can make a mistake.

Nope – the questioning should be about his assesment of the intel that he put to the Commons. This was him, and him alone. It wasn’t distorted by the media, it wasn’t ambiguous, it wasn’t nuanced or vague, he cannot blame Bad Al Campbell or claim his remarks were in good faith at that time. Nope. He stood up, told the Commons and the world that the intelligence supporting the claims of WMD was “extensive, detailed and authoritative”, and that was a plain, fucking, lie.

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13 comments to “The questions Blair will never ask himself”

  1. I’m afraid that no one will ever land a glove on him when it comes to the tortuously-clever wording that they spun into the case for war.

    The 45 minute claim was for “existing and active military plans for the use of…”. Even though we know the impression it conveyed at the time, technically it may have been correct even if those weapons didn’t exist. That sentence alone is so clever: the reader is invited to conclude that the weapons actually exist – why would there be plans “for the use of” something that doesn’t exist? – but it also allows for the possibility that they don’t.

    “extensive, detailed and authoritative” doesn’t necessarily conflict with “patchy and sporadic” i.e. the intelligence services are authoritative because of their experience and qualifications, and they may have loads of detail on their many – but patchy and sporadic – individual investigations. No claim is made for the correctness of the evidence.

    I noticed that TB was challenged today at one point over the dossier foreword which says:
    “What I believe the assessed intelligence has established beyond doubt is that Saddam has continued to produce chemical and biological weapons…”

    He quite brazenly replied that yes, it was what “he believed” at the time in good faith, so they can’t get him on that one. In other words he is unapologetic over creating misleading impressions if he can convince himself he is legally and technically correct.

    Of the few bits I could stand to watch this morning, the only time I saw him rattled for a moment was, when discussing the 45 minute claim, one of the panel asked something like “Did you understand the difference between short range battlefield weapons and long range missiles?”. Absolutely immediately realising he had been caught in a trap, he didn’t answer, but blustered about that trivial detail of the dossier not being at the forefront of his mind when he had had so much on his plate at the time, and the questioner moved onto something else.

  2. The people id like in the dock are all the sanctimonius lefties who protested against the war ..then went straight into the polling booths and voted for the cunt ! Blame yourselves Guardian readers ….

  3. J, you say “I’m afraid that no one will ever land a glove on him when it comes to the tortuously-clever wording that they spun into the case for war.”


    You totally lost me. A 9 year old could see through the propaganda tripe, then and now. Blair is untouchable, protected by an establishment cordon. On trial therefore, as much as Blair himself, is the whole establishment almost in entirety (yes the then cabinet, and the majority of MPs, but that is just a starter).

    In many ways, concerns and doubts as to the nature and direction of the British Establishment, should be acutely urgent concerns, and with no basis for doubting it.

  4. Thanks fellers – J: “extensive, detailed and authoritative” doesn’t necessarily conflict with “patchy and sporadic” i.e. the intelligence services are authoritative because of their experience and qualifications, and they may have loads of detail on their many – but patchy and sporadic – individual investigations. No claim is made for the correctness of the evidence.” I take your point, but I don’t think it works in this instance – the clear imrpession was given to the Commons that the evidence *for WMD* was conclusive. Blair was not speaking of generalities or the past history of MI6 and no reasonable person could think he was. He was insistant that the evidence put it “beyond doubt”.

    Now yes, taking vitamin’s point, regarldess of whether he lied or not, he is probably protected for life, but is that certain? Nothing is certain. Which brings another puzzling question – everyone who voted for the war in the Commons could, if they wished, now say (as Michael Howard has said, on record, and others have said off-record) “we voted for the way because we were lied to”. You’d think some people, especially Tories, but also some Labour backbenchers, would be pretty keen to use this line – and yet there doesn’t seem to be any enthusiasm for it.

    Pretty sure there’s a lot more going on – and was – than we’re aware of. As another for instance: we now know the yellowcake story was bullshit, based on forged documents; why isnt’ anyone interested in who forged them?

  5. Frank,

    my take on it was always that it was one of two scenarios:

    * that Western security, prosperity, and dominance relies upon cheap oil, and that we are always far less secure in that regard than we assume. Therefore, yes, a resource war, and I often had the impression as Blair was wincing under questioning, that his face was betraying an expression of ‘Oh come on guys, don’t make me say it!”
    Many of the individuals who I know that seemed to support his actions, seemed to do so on this tacit understanding that to hell with ethics, thats our oil there. Note though, the schism between UK/US and old Europe on that line of argument.

    * The ziocon stranglehold on UK/US establishments from end to end, forces us into wars with Iraq for Israeli interests, and a war in Georgia over the Baku pipeline which is exclusively destined for Israel for own consumption and re-export to Asia. No active western consumption of that oil, in spite of the tired old mantra that there was. Refer to first bullet above for the official line why obsessive support for Israel is supposed to be in our interests. And with the attack on IRAN coming up, more evidence of same.

    So those politicos who could use the get-out clause ‘we were lied to,’ either supported the resource war in its own right, else fear to challenge the unseen (to us anyway) power structures that could rub out their careers in a thrice.

    Oh, there is a third rationale; slavish poodledom to USA. That effectively is a subset of point 2 though, when taking into account the nature of US foreign policy.

  6. Now here is a link worth a read for any goldbugs out there.

    Summary in one sentence, it is supposedly an expose of how west really secured a cheap oil supply, and of the hidden flow of Gold to Saudi Arabia as a condition of the general price.

    I cannot describe myself as an acolyte of this, I am still ploughing through it and the repercussions. However, of interest is the following:
    * The author, known only as Another, contributed to blogs in the late nineties, and was incredibly prescient as to the details of financial firestorm of the last two years.
    * He wrote anonymously supposedly from a high position in which he was actual witness to all the hidden financial processes that he described.
    * He had a sympathiser called ‘Friend of Another,’ and again with FoFoA (friend of friend of Another), which in spite of the cultish associations, writes one of the more intriguing blogs about Gold on the net, and relates what was written then to what is happening now.

    The skinny on Another’s writings, is that gold is actively (not passively) linked to the oil price, that the whole set up was careering out of control due to Asian hunger to buy gold which was interfering with the artificially set gold price, and that the price of gold and oil would soon reach the sky. Oil would come down thereafter, but not Gold, whose value would be revealed once more to Western citizens (whilst western leaders, and everybody in the East, already know).

    He got his timings wrong, he thought it was imminent, and that the Asian currency crises of the late nineties was the start. HOWEVER, when he was writing, oil was around $13 a barrel, and it reached $149 ten years later, which would have seemed impossible at the time (and is only a fore-runner to the event he describes, since gold still languishes in price by his definition; and $149 oil was an early warning shot.) He did foresee the collapse of credit, of runaway printing by the Fed, of stock market and dollar rallies, and importantly, where this would lead:

    “That is why some “Big Traders” are holding ONLY gold as events unfold.”

    ” One last note: No form of paper wealth will survive the financial crush once the CBs stop selling! NOTHING! ”

    “The market is changing now,,, it will go up but you will not be happy with the outcome.”

    “What is happening now is far, far larger than the interest of a few traders or mining companies. They will be stepped on!”

    Much of what he writes is inconsistent with my own global theories, so I am on the fence. (He talks of the essential benevolence of Central Banks, which makes me laugh, but if he worked in one maybe, then it is his knowledge and not his leanings that makes him interesting).

    But what he writes has to me, the status of essential reading nonetheless. His forecast drift towards an oil price explosion (which I don’t think $149 was the described event) was not based on market analysis, but on inside knowledge of how the gold & oil markets actually work, and so would also be known to our decision-makers. He wrote too of Fiat money collapse, and of closure of the Gold markets since there would be no sellers, and it would not be available at any price.
    Such as it might be true, Iraq war 2 slots into place as a resource war which we knew already, but also describes a context of acute urgency which was not known to us. It is not an urgency of peak oil, but rather of a financial system that is set to explode. It links Iraq war 2 to the current credit crunch / depression, with the underlying forces at play.

    I’m not short myself, of alternative theories of how the world works, but this one might well earn its place among them.

  7. Just to underpin the theoretical relevance of the writings referred to in my previous post:

    ><from 1998 – start quote:

    The first few moments after the Saudi’s proposal to trade oil for gold at a very steep discount of 1000 Bbl/oz ( approx. 1.5% of current US$ price ) there would be roars of laughter. One fast thinker after another would think “Hey. I buy some gold at $300/oz, trade for oil to receive 1 Mln Bbl, then sell the 1 Mln Bbl for US$ 10 Mln. Net profit is

    $10,000,000-$300,000=$9,700,000. Easy money.” .

    Everyone at once turns to the gold market to buy, which promptly shuts down. Now no one is laughing. Because everyone realizes that gold is now worth at least $10,000 per ounce and no one is prepared for that revaluation. Whoever has gold now has 66.67 times the purchasing power in that stockpile. What appeared to be a stupid offer has now become a complete revaluation of all gold stockpiles vs all currencies.

    Who has the gold?

    end quote: <<

    who has gold, who has oil, who has guns?

    Middle east has oil, and their primary producers need to do deals for military protection (even if it is only a protection racket run by the protector). Only USA and Russia have the muscle for that role in the middle east.
    By another metric, China and USA are both major oil producers, but cannot satisfy their own needs. China, Russia and USA all produce gold; China is now number one world producer, and it all stays at home. Only Russia presently has everything; Gold, huge surplus Oil, and a military to challenge USA.

    The quote above describes how the world financial system can be turned on its head, in a day. Currencies and paper investments would burn. The world would carry on, with changes in balance of power and economic dynamics. Gold would be revalued to equal all the former paper currency value of the world, whether $10k per ounce, $100k per ounce, whatever. The world is addicted to oil. For one leading oil producing state to price oil in gold, would reset the gold price as described regardless the reaction of other oil producers, as the physical gold market is tiny.

    The Arab oil producing states, notably Saudi, were happy with the existing system while cheap oil bought cheap gold. They needed not invoke the scenario described above, and likely could not because of neighbourhood cop USA.

    But Russia could do it, & China might one day. Their option.
    The Soviet Union was in fact bankrupted by a collapse in value of oil production, arguably the key US cold war tactic. Russia has the option under this logic, to press the reset button themselves on the current global system by selling oil for gold, if it should please her.

    It is not the likelihood of occurrence that is relevant here, but rather, how the world could change in a day, and how a handful of states could in fact invoke that option if it so suited them.

    Might offer hidden or parallel explanations to rationale behind many world events or trends.

    And also underlines again, the curious case of voracious appetite for physical gold by Asian citizens and central banks, and Russian CB, who are accumulating as fast as the market can stand it. This purchasing enthusiasm is actually destabilising the cheap gold for cheap oil deal that USA has had with Saudi. All the big buyers have pent up demand for gold, but as soon as they express it with purchases, they push up the price and threaten to explode or close the market; so they buy small, else off market (Like the recent Indian purchase of IMF gold). Cheap gold was supposed to be traded for cheap oil, but the Asians turned up with big money and disturbed the dynamic. Now Western Central Banks are effectively all net buyers too, as gold’s time might be coming again.

    Oil price explosion, gold price soaring, and global depression.
    They are connected events, and if to the extent that this post identifies a pattern, then underlines how the world could change overnight with, or even with the absence of, oil shortages or wars.

    This is not, by the way, a defence of the likes of Blair, supposedly in possession of facts that are hidden from us little people. I’d have to have a lobotomy before I lent him any support.

  8. Gold is interesting. I was holding a fair bit during the rocketing of last year. Wish I still was… T’missus got the fear.

    With regard to the war being fought for cheap oil, I’m not sure that really works. I found Greg Palast’s thesis, that the war was fought for *stable* oil prices very compelling – but even this doesn’t fit the current rush to war against Iran.

    I’d have to have a lobotomy before I lent him any support.

    Well, yeah, I feel the same way but…. what if he’s right? What if, for the majority of people, our long term interests really are served by poodledom and war war war? I’m no ideologue – I don’t have a 100% handle on why the world is doing what it does. I can concieve – quite easily – of scenarios in which Blair was 100% right. And I guess that’s why I haven’t yet started chucking petrol bombs.

    Overthinking. The curse of the intelligensia…

  9. Yep, unfortunately, there should be fear in holding gold. Burglary apart, public interest interferes with the role assigned to it by our masters. They do not encourage its acquisition, and can easily pass laws facilitating confiscation, or heavy taxing thereof, even just for inert possession. It is said that gold requires strong hands, the kind of owner who at short notice can abscond to various boltholes overseas as suits, permanently if required. That excludes most of us.

    Regarding resource wars, yeah, but it is this pretence that grates. Conquest and pillage, Roman style, has a kind of logic when it is done to ensure survival through perpetuating dominance. I believe that this is the reason why most people who backed Blair, back him. The same types do not see human misery and slavery in those who serve them somewhere like Dubai, they just see ‘value’ for themselves. Marvellous.

    But on both a national, and a personal level, a view must be taken on putting on jackboots and rampaging round the world. Even those who care not for the human cost, would care that tactics do not backfire.

    So there is another criteria to measure Blair, even for those happy for us to kill for oil. Competent? Clever? Patriotic?


  10. What if, for the majority of people, our long term interests really are served by poodledom and war war war?

    That’s the nub of it, isn’t it? You can’t hold statesmen to the same moral yardstick as the hoi polloi. Blair obviously thought that war-war was better than jaw-jaw in this instance, and if he did, he’d be a poor PM if he let pesky old Nürnberg statutes get in the way of Great Britain’s national inerest.

    Nonsense about the existence or absence of WMD is a petulant and naive non sequitur, we all knew that was just a handy casus bello, Rumsfeld admitted as much. By insisting that questions about WMD are pertinent, you play the warmongers game: distraction.

    The Danish PM come NATO general secretary never used the WMD phrase when speaking to parliament, he always said ‘Saddam’s dangerous weapons’ and no journalist felt obliged to ask him, what the hell he meant by that. In the late summer of 2003, four heavy weight I/P editors was on the air, discussing the newly issued edict from Washington that it was now kosher to admit there never was any WMD.

    “Well, I never believed in WMD anyway,” says one of the editors. The three others quickly seconds him, they don’t want to appear dense. They never believed in WMD either. The host didn’t ask them why the hell they kept this belief away from their audience. The program is no longer available on the internet, of course.

    Everyone with two braincells knew that WMD was just a childish scare story, debunking it is distraction, playing the warmongers’ game by taking that absurd story seriously.

    The real question is whether Iraq was in Great Britain’s interest or not. Doesn’t seem so in retrospect, but in retrospect we’re all brilliantly clever.

  11. Might add, that in my humble opinion, Iraq was a stupid caper, but still in Denmark’s interest. Denmark is allied with the US and protected by their nuclear umbrella. If we tag along, the chance that the US would help Denmark the day we really need them, is increased. So Washington thinks invading Iraq is a great idea? Who are we to gainsay them?

    It’s not that simple for Great Britain as you have your own nukes, but I’d say it’s still a good idea to keep relations with Washington cordial.

  12. The real question is whether Iraq was in Great Britain’s interest or not. Doesn’t seem so in retrospect, but in retrospect we’re all brilliantly clever.

    Well, the other question is what timescale are we looking at? It certainly doesn’t appear to have advanced our interests then, today, or in the near future – may it in the further future?

    I have – I freely admit – problems figuring out what is “good” and “bad” in the world, because it’s very hard to judge over what degrees of separation you should judge your action, what timescale, what *range* of performance indicators you’ll look at. I’m not joking – I do think when you analyse things, you’ll find it’s pretty hard to find objective indicators for “good” and “bad”.

    That said… I dislike dishonesty; as a rule of thumb I figure if someone is lying to me, they are *probably* acting against my best interests. Or at least, they think they are…

  13. Hey Frank,

    whilst aware that the thread may now be unattended….

    Many excellent questions above. If I may just concentrate on this one:

    “Well, yeah, I feel the same way but…. what if he’s right? What if, for the majority of people, our long term interests really are served by poodledom and war war war? I’m no ideologue.”

    It is easier for me to take a stance for personal reasons. My country (Serbia) was the victim of a NATO war of aggression, on the back of a fabricated genocide. In my mind, the NATO actions were evil and disastrous. That is not the issue here of course; the issue here is as to whether Britain’s interests are somehow furthered by this, and other adventures such as Iraq.

    How I hope to address this intrigue, is to remind us all of how complex is the world, and how ‘leaders’ have repeatedly enacted disastrous decisions as they fiddle about with policies and pet projects, for which the horrific consequences usually fall on the 95% of their own populations who are fodder. Typically, this is due to the horrors of war, and economic usury, from which the greater downtrodden public had liberated themselves, only to find themselves manipulated and betrayed once again by their ruling classes, but by more subtle modern means.

    So this is a two pronged response;
    * our leaders give not a fuck for you or I (Think bank-bailouts, Eurocrats, gravy trains, Harperson etc, follow your instincts)
    * to the extent that our leaders might have some greater, somehow unseen goal (possibly in our interest, possibly not) then think Blair, Dr Strangelove, and First World War generals. High rank is typically riven by incompetence and detachment from reality, where again, the likes of you and I are just fodder.

    To illustrate with an example, let us return to Kosovo.
    What was supposed to be a quick, clean, 3 day victory for NATO, turned into a 78 day campaign of bombing a fellow European country into the stone age. But worse, it was a conflict that ostensibly had no purpose vis a vis British interests, and yet the chief promoter was a British PM. And it came to pass, that NATO bombed the Chinese embassy. And it subsequently came to pass, that an American General ordered leader of ground forces Michael Jackson, to fire on Russian troops, who had just got to Slatina airport ahead of the allies. Jackson disobeyed a DIRECT ORDER, replying ‘I’m not starting WW3 for you.’ (colloquial = ‘fuck off”).

    So with this, I illustrate my point. Straight out of Dr Strangelove; crazy generals and the whole shebang; a major collision with a nuclear power was averted, during a war enacted on a false pretense, in which it is hard to find the British interest. There was not even a fucking post-audit. It would have been a whitewash anyway.

    So yeah, this is the problem of trusting politicians. What are the grim, hard-nosed decisions that they have to make secretly on our behalf? To start WW3, but ensure victory, by doing a sneak attack on China and Russia? Could it go that far? It would facilitate subsequent and easy conquest over the oil fields for sure, because then we would have a unipolar world (what is left of it).

    Thats only an example. I am convinced though, that there is a caucus in the Pentagon that believes that time is not on the USA’s side, and that they must ‘neutralise’ military opponents while there is time. (!) They will be focused on the endgame, and not the morals or the costs, and will be concerned less with risks than with strategy. To them, to do nothing is equally risky.

    So yeah, trust your instincts mate. If we forget our moral compass, then we get sucked into dead-end what-ifs.
    And if we forget the historic, monumental incompetence of past and present leaders, and their propensity to treat their own citizens as fodder, then we will ensure we become fodder too.

    Modern history strongly suggests that three of the major decision makers in our national affairs, are a) the banking/monied classes, b) the military industrial complex, and c) ancient ideologies, whether zionist, anti-Russian, anti-German etc. It is difficult to see where there is scope for any political integrity at all.

    bye for now.

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