Monday, 18 February 2013
The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women has a vision, “a world where women have equal opportunities and the capability, confidence and capital necessary to establish and grow businesses”. Support comes from corporate heavyweights like Exxon Mobil, JP Morgan and General Electric, the philanthropic Rockefeller Foundation and ‘democracy’ promoter and colour revolution specialist, the United States Agency for International Development.
Cherie, wife of Tony, takes her work seriously, citing former US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright: “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
Cherie Booth QC has her detractors; people who sneer at bargain hunting on eBay; others obviously jealous that the Blairs have now acquired 7 homes for about £20 million. These piffling criticisms aside – it is still pertinent to consider the feminist authority of Ms Albright to which Ms Blair appeals.
In December 1996, Lesley Stahl co-editor of the television news programme, “60 Minutes” asked about the impact of US sanctions imposed on Iraq following its invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it.” Ms Albright said, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it.” Ms Albright did not challenge the figures.
The 1991 war against Iraq was a global television spectacle marketed and sold to a world unable to shut its eyes to the propaganda. The US media, especially CNN, dominated the coverage, allowing Bush and the Pentagon to package and promote the war as pure, just and inevitable. A recent essay by Douglas Kellner, professor of law at Columbia University provides important perspective.
“In the early days of ‘the crisis of the Gulf’, the Bush administration carried through a highly successful disinformation campaign by means of their control and manipulation of sources that legitimated the U.S. military deployment in Saudi Arabia on August 8, 1990. During the first days of the crisis, the U.S. government constantly claimed that the Iraqis were mobilising troops on the border of Saudi Arabia, poised to invade the oil-rich kingdom. This was sheer disinformation and later studies revealed that Iraq had no intention of invading Saudi Arabia and did not have large number of troops on the Saudi border in a threatening posture.”
Kellner notes the importance of a story carried by the Washington Post on August 7 1990. It allegedly reports a conversation between US chargé d’affaires Joseph Wilson and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. According to the report Sadam was highly belligerent; he would attack Saudi Arabia if it cut-out Iraqi pipelines delivering oil to the Gulf. American blood would flow in the sand if they sent troops. This is clearly inflammatory.
But says Kellner, “A later transcript of the Wilson-Hussein meeting revealed that Hussein was cordial, indicated a willingness to negotiate, insisted that he had no intention of invading Saudi Arabia, and opened the doors for a diplomatic solution to the crisis. The Post story, however, was taken up by the television networks, wire services, and press, producing an image that there was no possibility of a diplomatic solution and that decisive action was needed to protect Saudi Arabia from the aggressive Iraqis. Such a story line legitimated the sending of U.S. troops to the Gulf and provided a perfect justification for the war.”
The interview with Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz on 9 January 1991 is of enormous importance. The top line – according to US Secretary of State, James Baker –was that America was prepared to kick Iraq – women included – back into the Stone Age. Professor of sociology, James Petras, suggests the full transcript of the meeting lasting over seven hours show the Americans were entirely concentrated on murder. “No, the substance of the discussions that day in Geneva was quite another. It had relatively little to do with Kuwait. The real issue was Israel and the Palestinian question.”
French diplomat Eric Rouleau noted Iraqis “had difficulty comprehending the Allied rationale for using air power to systematically destroy or cripple Iraqi infrastructure and industry: electric power stations (92 percent of installed capacity destroyed), refineries (80 percent of production capacity), petrochemical complexes, telecommunications centres (including 135 telephone networks), bridges (more than 100), roads, highways, railroads, hundreds of locomotives and boxcars full of goods, radio and television broadcasting stations, cement plants, and factories producing aluminum, textiles, electric cables, and medical supplies”.
Francis Boyle, professor of international law, estimates that approximately 3.3 million Iraqis, including 750,000 children, were “exterminated” by economic sanctions and/or illegal wars conducted by the U.S. and Great Britain between 1990 and 2012. He says “the slaughter fits the classic definition of Genocide Convention Article II of, “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”. South Africa is party to the Convention on the Prevention Punishment of the Crime of Genocide which it ratified in 1998.
Dr Gideon Polya, author of “Body Count – Global Avoidable” says: “The ongoing Iraqi Holocaust (1990-2011) involves 1.7 million violent deaths, 2.9 million non-violent excess deaths, 4.5 million violent and non-violent excess deaths, 2.0 million under-5 infant deaths, 1.8 million avoidable under-5 year old infant deaths and 5-6 million refugees.
Mani Shankar Aiyar, the Indian diplomat is worth quoting, “It was Saddam’s revolution that ended Iraqi backwardness. Education, including higher and technological education, became the top priority. More important, centuries of vicious discrimination against girls and women were ended by one stroke of the modernising dictator’s pen.”
“I used to drive past the Mustansariya University on my way home from downtown Baghdad. It was miraculous — I use the word advisedly — it was nothing short of miraculous to see hundreds of girl-students thronging the campus, none in “burkhas” or “chador” — the head-to-toe black cape that was, and is, essential dress for women in most of the Islamic world — and almost all in skirts and blouses that would grace a Western university….The liberation of women — that is half the population of Iraq, as for any other country — has been the most dramatic achievement of Saddam’s regime”.
Ten years ago this month the world witnessed the greatest anti-war protest in history – involving millions of people across six hundred cities. It was unable to stop a war sold on the myth of weapons of mass destruction. In Britain they cowered expecting an attack in 45 minutes. There are other wars under way and in the offing. It will take far greater effort to stop them.
Earlier this month the Guardian, London, carried this appeal by retired MP, Tony Benn. “This is a call to all those millions of people in Britain who face an impoverished and uncertain year as their wages, jobs, conditions and welfare provision comes under renewed attack by the government. With some 80% of austerity measures still to come, and with the government lengthening the time they expect cuts to last, we are calling a People’s Assembly Against Austerity to bring together campaigns against cuts and privatisation with trade unionists in a movement for social justice. We aim to develop a strategy for resistance to mobilise millions of people against the Con Dem government.
Tony Benn, the President of the Coalition of Resistance, is a remarkable and courageous man, not least because he is in his eighties. He would say that is his gift. Most of the people facing the brunt of austerity are women. Will the Cheries and Madeleines of this world offer any support to their sex. Will they investigate the hell that depleted uranium brings to little girls in Iraq. Will they carry the images of the twisted cancerous bodies on their websites? Some women are making a fortune from their political appointments and celebrity status. Perhaps a little trip to Iran to see “hell’ might be useful.
After all these years, the Chilcot Inquiry has yet to tell Britons whether the war their government prosecuted against Iraq was illegal, making it the crime of the century.