The Deceivers: Malice Aforethought in the Iraq War Crime

Sidney Blumenthal's article on ("Bush knew Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction") -- and Jon Schwarz's critique of it ("Salon WMD Story Seemingly Overstated") -- return us once again to the matter of the origins of the Iraq War. Jon of course has done sterling service in bringing to light the "Downing Street Memo" and related documents on the trumped-up case for war knowingly promulgated by Bush and Blair.

This seems an apt time for a second look at a piece I wrote three years ago, in September 2004, about these murky origins. This article, written in the final weeks of the surreal charade that gave George W. Bush four more years to commit mass murder, came out before the Downing Street memos were uncovered; but as the article notes, the evidence of deliberate deception by the oh-so-Christian leaders of the "Coalition" was already copious, and undeniable.

Original version first published in The Moscow Times, Sept. 24, 2004:

The Deceivers
How many times must the truth be told before it conquers the lies? Again and again, the brutal realities behind the rape of Iraq - that it was planned years ago, that the aggressors knew full well that their justifications for war were false and that their invasion would lead to chaos, ruin and unbridled terror - have been exposed by the very words and documents of the invaders themselves. Yet the reign of the lie goes on, rolling toward its final entrenchment in November.

Mid-month, as hundreds of Iraqi civilians were being slaughtered by insurgents and invaders, as more pipelines exploded, more hostages were seized, more families sank into poverty and filth, the cynical machinations of the oh-so-Christian Coalition of Bush and Blair were revealed yet again.

This time it was a tranche of leaked documents from March 2002, a full year before the war: reports to Tony Blair from his top advisers plainly stating that the intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was unsubstantiated, that there was no connection between Saddam and al-Qaida, that there was no legal justification for invading the country, and that any such invasion would lead to years of chaotic occupation, The Daily Telegraph (an arch-conservative, pro-war paper) reports. [The Observer, which also backed the war, had more on the leak here.]

Even more remarkably, Blair was told that the likely end result of the invasion would be the rise of yet another Saddam-like tyrant, who would then try to acquire the very weapons of mass destruction that the Coalition attack was ostensibly designed to destroy. In fact, Blair was told, with Iraq hedged in by a powerful Iran to the east and a nuclear-armed Israel to the west, any Iraqi leader, even a democratic one, will eventually seek WMD to defend the country.

All of this echoed similar warnings given to George W. Bush by the State Department, the CIA, top military brass - even his own father. Most of these alarms were reported - obscurely at times - in the press before the invasion. The Coalition's maniacal drive to war without evidence or provocation was later confirmed - again, often obliquely - by Congressional probes, the 9/11 commission, the Hutton report, the Butler report, Bush's official WMD investigators and a raft of revelations by top insiders on both sides of the Atlantic, such as Robin Cook, Richard Clarke, Bob Graham, John O'Neill and others.

The public record, available to anyone who wants the truth, is undeniable: The war was waged on false pretenses - and the war leaders knew it.

They knew it would bring unimaginable death and suffering to multitudes of innocent people in Iraq - and to thousands of their own soldiers and civilians as well. They knew it would lead to more terrorism, more chaos, more insecurity in the world. Yet they plunged ahead anyway, deliberately deceiving their own people with a poison cloud of lies, exaggeration and bluster. Why? Because for the warmongers, the game was worth the candle: The loot, the power, the "dominance" to be won was an irresistible temptation.

The Telegraph expose centered on papers prepared for Blair's March 2002 summit with the true ruler of the United States: Dick Cheney. As often noted here, Cheney was a key figure in the corporate/militarist faction Project for the New American Century, along with Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and other bloodthirsty elites.

In September 2000 - before Bush was installed as the faction's White House frontman - PNAC issued the final version of a plan, years in the making, to ensure American geopolitical and economic "dominance" through military control of key oil regions and strategic pipeline routes, either directly or via client states. This would be accompanied by a "revolutionary" transformation of American society into a more warlike state: a transformation that PNAC said could only be accomplished if the American people were "galvanized" by "a catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor."

The conquest of Iraq was a vital cog in this long-range plan, and the depredations of the Baath Regime - the worst of which occurred with the full support of PNAC's top players during the Reagan-Bush years - had nothing to do with it.

The Cheney-Rumsfeld group put it plainly in 2000: The need to establish a military presence in Iraq "transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." Likewise, 9/11 and "the new threats in a changed world" - evoked so often as a justification by the warmongers - were equally irrelevant to an invasion planned years before the CIA's ex-ally, Osama bin Laden, obligingly provided that longed-for "new Pearl Harbor."

What's more, the warmakers knew that Saddam's WMD arsenal and weapons development programs had been dismantled at his order in 1991.

This was confirmed in 1995 by crateloads of documentary evidence supplied by top defector Hussein Kamel, Saddam's son-in-law and WMD chieftain - as Newsweek magazine reported before the war.

It was confirmed again by UN inspectors, who independently verified the elimination of 95 percent of Iraq's WMD arsenal - before they were summarily pulled out of the country ahead of a U.S.-British punitive strike in 1998.

Bush, Blair, Cheney and the rest knew all of this when they made the decision to launch what the Nuremberg Tribunal called "the supreme international crime" - aggressive war. Now they are openly planning a new blitzkrieg to crush all resistance to their profit-seeking conquest: an assault - conveniently set after Bush's re-installation as frontman - which they know will churn through countless innocent bodies like a meat grinder.

When they stand before the world to justify the coming outrage, remember this, and hold to it: everything they say about their war is a lie. And it has been from the beginning.