Date: January 2nd 2004
Location: Tesco Dorchester
The Event: First sighting of Easter eggs. They don't hang around, do they?
The year I became the citizen of a rogue nation
The year 2003 will go down as the one where America forgot the lessons of Vietnam and got itself caught up in another military misadventure that has the potential of making their Indo-China foray look like a vicar’s tea party. In truth, the war started even before September 11th 2001, with th election of a government of hawks, 9-11 becoming the lever which allowed the US, in the name of protecting its interests, to secure the Middle East and ensure long-term energy supplies in an age where fossil fuels are becoming more and more scarce.
There was no plot, no conspiracy behind 9-11 outside one group of extremists desire to see The Great Satan humbled. I don’t think even bin Laden could even predict the destruction his attacks would cause, and the scale of American retaliations. The extreme Taliban government paid the price for its open support of Al-Qa’ida, and soon succumbed to the might of the American military. However, Mullah Omar’s comments that, try as they might, America would never fully control Afghanistan soon became remarkably true.
Despite the justification for war, America is now bogged down in Afghanistan where only the major cities can be said to be secure. The Taliban is still active, bin Laden’s group are still at large, and most tellingly, the opium harvest was as large as ever. So much for the War on Drugs.
Then came Iraq. The focus was off Al-Qa’ida and Saddam became the bogeyman. Let’s not forget that Saddam was a murderous despot, but his removal by force and on the flimsiest of pretences brings the governments of Bush and Blair down to the rogue state level that they so arrogantly decry.
Let’s take a look at the President’s own words:
“Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.” - Total WMDs found so far: nil.
“This regime has already used weapons of mass destruction against Iraq's neighbors and against Iraq's people.” - Weapons supplied to this member of the Axis of Evil by ...err.. The United States of America..
“It has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda.” - Saddam and bin Laden have openly denounced each other. It’s like saying the UK harbours IRA terrorists because they live in the same (vast) country.
“The danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other.” - There were no nuclear weapons, the uranium that came from Niger only existed in the President’s imagination. Chemical and biological weapons turned out to be a truck used for filling hydrogen ballons and a crop-dusting aircraft made out of an Airfix kit.
“The United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours.” - Bollocks to the lot of ya, we’re going it alone, and will come crawling back to you later in the year when it all goes pear-shaped. See ya.
“And all Iraqi military and civilian personnel should listen carefully to this warning. Do not destroy oil wells, a source of wealth that belongs to the Iraqi people.” - Did they really fall for that one? Suckers!
“The terrorist threat to America and the world will be diminished the moment that Saddam Hussein is disarmed.” - *cough*
All quotes sourced from “President Says Saddam Hussein Must Leave Iraq Within 48 Hours - Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation” 17 March 2003. To translate the whole shebang into understandable English for the MTV generation, the C-in-C’s speech boils down to:
“My fellow citizens, blah... drone... Ma’s apple pie on Sundays... he tried to kill my paw... round ‘em up, put ‘em in a field and bomb the bastards... I am not a crook... we’re a peace-loving nation, and we’ll kill anyone who says otherwise.”
One person who did fall for this one hook, line and sinker was our very own Tony Blair. Oh dear. How he blew the “forty-five minute” allegation completely out of proportion. How he continued to push the case for war when it was clear that the UN Inspectors’ take on events on the ground were completely at odds with those put by our democratically elected betters.
They took us to war on false pretences. They were warned that while Iraq was not a terrorist state, it would soon enough become a magnet for terrorists, and bugger me backwards if that wasn’t exactly what happened, shortly before the well-publicsed crawl back to the UN the second it became too expensive to wage armed peace. At least when Clinton went charging into war, it had some point outside asset stripping. But to criticise Clinton was a Conservative’s prerogative. Nowadays, criticising the President is “Unamerican”. Welcome back, Senator McCarthy.
A war over oil? In 1973, the Nixon government considered military intervention in Saudi Arabia to secure the oil fields over OPEC price fixing. Even Nixon (who was not a crook), thought this a step too far. Not so the current administration. Still, they found the WMDs. In Libya.
So now, I humbly ask the United Nations if it would be possible to effect regime change in the United Kingdom. Good God, there’s WMDs everywhere, I go past the bloody factories at Porton Down and Burghfield/Aldermaston on the way to work. I live under a government that has waged war outside the bounds of the UN charter, acting as a stooge to the world’s biggest superpower. To put it frankly, I feel dirtied.
We are now living under a government so right wing, even the Tories would have been embarrassed with some of the policies that are appearing. Abolition of trial by jury. The hobbling of the Upper House of Parliament. Identity cards. The impoverishing and forcible splitting up of refugee families, after paying five hundred notes and singing “God Save the Queen” just to get through the front doors. All the stuff that George Orwell held over for his comedy sequel “1985”, but couldn’t be arsed to write, mainly because he died. All of a sudden, New Zealand looks appealing.
"Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction." -- George W Bush, president of a country which has openly developed and deployed weapons of mass destruction. I don't know why, but I always feel nervous about leaders that bang on about "homeland" all the time.