British Labour politician regrets voting for Iraq war

This video from the USA is called Big Oil: What Iraq War was ‘ALL’ About.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Michael Meacher voted for war in what he calls the ‘worst decision of his political life.’ He hails the 139 Commons heroes who weren’t taken in by Blair.

Lies, deception and death: Iraq 10 years on

Sunday 16 June 2013

by Michael Meacher

The deceitful march to war

Ten years on from the war in Iraq the facts are stark. The US went to war in Iraq because of oil and because control of the Middle East was seen as important to foreign policy.

This was clearly set out in the Project for a New American Century document published by the Bush election team in September 2000.

We now know, from then US Treasury secretary Paul O’Neill, that war was planned from the very first day of the Bush administration. September 11 2001 simply provided the pretext.

Britain went to war because President Bush wanted its support. There is no doubt that at the Crawford summit in April 2002 prime minister Tony Blair in effect committed to providing that support, publicly pledging that he was going to stand shoulder to shoulder with Bush.

From that point on the assessment of the intelligence data was manipulated to find a rationale for war.

However, because UN inspectors had left Iraq in 1998, evidence of weapons of mass destruction was non-existent or extremely flimsy.

The CIA admitted that its resources on Iraq were “thin” and Britain’s Joint Intelligence Committee had already concluded in March 2002 that “intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction … and ballistic missile programmes is” – in words we will always remember – “sporadic and patchy.”

In the evidence put together in those crucial five months between the Crawford summit and the publication of the September 2002 dossier to justify the war, all the specific data was flawed.

Blair presented an inventory of chemical and biological weapons and weapon parts to the Commons as if Saddam Hussein was definitely believed to possess them. In fact they were weapons “unaccounted for” in the first Gulf war, 12 years earlier.

The 45-minute claim referred to battlefield nuclear weapons, but the impression given was that the threat went much wider.

A claim that Iraq had tried to buy 500 tons of yellowcake, which is required for nuclear fission, from Niger was repeated despite the former US ambassador to that country confirming six months earlier that it was completely bogus.

And Blair claimed to MPs on February 25 2003 that the defection of Hussein Kamel, Saddam’s son-in-law, in 1995 had revealed “the offensive biological weapons and the full extent of the nuclear programme.”

What Kamel actually said was: “All weapons – biological, chemical, missile, nuclear – were destroyed.”

As the Butler report points out so poignantly, all the ifs, buts, qualifications and caveats in the raw intelligence data were dropped from the dossier, while positive allegations were distinctly overhyped.

We were told in the final September dossier that Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction programme was “active, detailed and growing” and that the intelligence on which that judgement was based was “extensive, detailed and authoritative.”

In fact Blair had been told by the British intelligence community just over a month before that we “know little about Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons work since late 1988.”

One cannot take a country into a war under false pretences and then proclaim, as the Butler committee did, that no-one can be held responsible.

Even 10 years on, we still have not been told the crucial evidence of the secret pledges that Blair made to Bush at his Crawford ranch in Texas some 10 months before the war began and before consulting the Cabinet, Parliament or the British people.

Chilcot has seen this evidence but, as I understand it, has been prevented from publishing it even though Blair and other key figures involved have disclosed privileged information when it has suited their case.

Being told, as we have been, that revealing its contents would not be in the public interest is the strongest possible indication that it would be very much in the public interest to do so.

A bloody legacy and heroic MPs

It has been said that the US won the war, Iran won the peace and Turkey won the contracts. But did the US win the war?

At a cost that has been estimated at $1.5 trillion, something over £1 trillion – Joseph Stiglitz, a former member of the presidential economic council, thinks it is actually twice that level – and at a cost to the US of a death toll of 4,500 troops, 32,000 wounded and with thousands of survivors still struck down with post-traumatic stress disorder, the US completely failed to anticipate the insurgency that eventually forced it out.

The war produced the one thing that the US was desperately anxious to prevent – a Shi’ite autocracy in Iraq closely aligned with Iran.

Washington was even forced to forgo control of Iraq’s enormous oil reserves.

If one had to pinpoint the moment when the US lost unipolar power in the world, it must surely be the comprehensive disaster of Iraq.

As for Iraq itself, it remains a bitterly divided and violent country.

The war’s victims include not only the hundreds of thousands of dead and, at the height of the conflict, the 4 million refugees, but today thousands are still tortured and imprisoned without trial, health and education have dramatically deteriorated, the position of women has horrifically gone backwards, trade unions are effectively banned, Baghdad is still divided by checkpoints and blast walls, electricity and water supplies have all but broken down, and people pay with their lives if they are honest enough to speak out.

In this war the greatest weapons of mass destruction were those wielded by the US. We saw the comprehensive and systematic demolition of Fallujah, the US-led massacres at Haditha, Mahmudiya and Balad, and the biggest refugee crisis in the Middle East since the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948.

I am utterly ashamed that I voted for the Iraq war. It is the worst political mistake I have made in my lifetime.

I did it because I listened carefully to the then prime minister during those two crucial debates. He spoke with enormous assurance and authority, and I believed that, as prime minister of this country, he would have been presented with the fullest degree and comprehensiveness of British intelligence, and he would use that data in a proper and honest manner to make the case. Perhaps I was naive to think that – I now believe that I was – but that is what I believed.

However, 10 years on, enormous tribute must be paid to those 139 MPs who did vote against the war.

Most were from Labour, but some were Tories or MPs from the smaller parties. They should be given the credit and honour that they are due.

Preventing another Iraq

What lessons can be learnt from the Iraq war disaster?

The chief one concerns the governance structure that allowed it to happen in the first place.

As we know, there was the illegal and devious manner in which the US and Britain claimed authority in launching the war at all.

Saddam had no involvement whatever in September 11 2001. There were no Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, a fact widely suspected by Western intelligence at the time but suppressed by the politicians. The ways used by Bush and Blair to take their countries to war were, as we know all too well, brazenly deceitful.

Much is made of the fact that there was a vote in the House of Commons – and there was. But that vote was on the very eve of war, hours before the bombing started when, with 45,000 British troops already deployed in the field, it was virtually impossible to draw back.

The power and wilfulness of a Prime Minister who can so brazenly override normal democratic procedures, quite apart from the personality of Tony Blair, is a very serious issue. He made a commitment to go to war at Bush’s Crawford ranch in Texas 10 months before that vote and without consulting anyone. He regularly told Parliament, right up to the very start of the war, that no decision had been taken. Clearly an unstoppable momentum had been deliberately built up. He lent heavily on his attorney-general between March 7 and 17 to induce him to chance his legal warning that the war was not legal.

On February 15 he ignored and dismissed the biggest protest demonstration this country has ever seen, with up to 2 million members of the public marching against the war.

According to evidence given by the British ambassador to the US at the time, Sir Christopher Meyer, Bush had even rung up Tony Blair to suggest that he could “sit out the war.” But Blair was obsessive and determined to see it through.

It the duty of our Parliament to set down inviolable conditions to prevent any such catastrophe from ever happening again.

That must, at the very least, embrace unquestioning compliance with UN resolutions, a clear and unwhipped vote of the Commons and, indeed, the Lords, long before any envisaged hostilities, and a full disclosure of all the data and evidence that can be used to justify war.

This article is based on a Commons speech by Michael Meacher in last week’s debate to mark 10 years since the start of the Iraq war.

USA: TERRIBLE: Gay veteran wounded in Iraq booed by anti-LGBT protesters: here.

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