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Playing Hide And Seek With Saddam


Has anything ever been such a complete waste of time as these weapons
inspections? Does anyone believe that Bush might announce, “Well, we’ve
looked absolutely everywhere and fair’s fair, there’s nothing there. I
didn’t think Saddam had it in him to scrap the lot, but it just shows what
even the worst of us can achieve when we really try. So thank you to all
the frigates and airborne divisions and tens of thousands of ground troops
and forces in Kuwait and battalions of strategists in the Pentagon, but you
can all go home.”

Blair admitted how pointless the inspections are when he justified military
action by saying “The inspections can’t go on forever.” Which seems to miss
out the point that the reason the inspectors are asking for more time is
they haven’t found anything. So another way for Blair to have put this
would have been to say, “Saddam continues to try and hold up this war by
not having weapons of mass destruction, and that is something we simply
cannot allow. He consistently flouts the inspectors by not having a secret
cave full of chemical warheads, with Tariq Aziz laughing loudly next to a
giant map with a ring drawn round Chicago while a digital clock counts
down, and that is, frankly, intolerable.”

Blair went on to say he wasn’t prepared to play “hide-and-seek” with
Saddam, which again assumes the only possible reason why stuff hasn’t been
found is Saddam must be hiding it. You could apply this to anywhere and
come up with a reason for war. After Iraq, Blair could send weapons
inspectors into the Blue Peter Garden, and after six weeks announce that as
no nuclear devices have been found, the only way to ensure peace was a
full-scale invasion. Then, when the presenters started running round the
studio with rifles and shouting “We’re ready to make you die,” Blair could
say “See, it’s working because they’re rattled.”

Admittedly the inspectors did find something, that pile of shells under the
floorboards, but they can’t be planning to launch war on account of those.
I’m no expert on military hardware, but don’t weapons lose a good deal of
their potency once they’re empty? Or are we going to have a war against
packaging of mass destruction? Even then, the inspectors checked to see
whether they’d been recently emptied of chemical weapons, as if the Iraqi
army is like a group of students at a party when the police arrive. Every
now and then a general shouts, “Hey, shut up everyone, it’s Hans Blix.
Quick, flush all your gear down the toilet.” Then everyone opens the
windows and desperately blows to clear away the smell of anthrax.

Whatever the inspectors turn up, even if it’s nothing, it will be deemed
enough to go to war. Saddam might as well have had a laugh with them. When
they found the shells, he should have said, “Oh there they are, we’ve been
looking all over the place for them. Hang on, there’s a couple missing.”

The march to this war has been relentless ever since the twin towers were
knocked over. Not that Iraq had anything to do with that, but it created
the perfect environment for the US military to do what they wanted to do
anyway. As such, the war is unjustified whether or not it gets backing from
the United Nations. I can see why many people are attracted to the idea
that the conflict should be placed under the authority of the UN Security
Council, as a brake on Bush and Blair, but adding Vladimir Putin’s
signature would be a highly limited brake. It would be like someone in the
East End of London in the Sixties saying they would only support the Krays
giving someone a knee-capping if they also got the backing of Mad Frankie
Fraser.

A headline in The Financial Times recently stated “Putin demands share of
post-Saddam oil”, which suggests his support can be bought if needed, and
most world leaders can be bribed or bullied into line if necessary. Imagine
the uproar if a trade union held votes in the manner of the UN, and members
who’d voted for strike action received a $4bn loan package and were given
backing to bombard Chechnya.

Bush and Blair agreed to take the war to the UN and to send in weapons
inspectors because of pressure from the genuine obstacle to their
warmongering: a worldwide mass movement. But since then international
opposition has continued to grow, as countless people dispute whether any
good can come from ever-increasing US domination of the planet.

The question now is how much of that opposition becomes active opposition.
The Pentagon can probably ignore passive opposition ? Donald Rumsfeld is
hardly likely to call off his plans because millions of people are watching
the news going “Tut, isn’t it dreadful.” But he will be concerned on 15
February, when globally co-ordinated demonstrations will result in the
greatest ever number of demonstrators around the planet on one day in all
history. Which means as a day out it offers the unique opportunity of
preserving your sanity and saving the planet in one short walk.

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