There’s an old story about Oliver Cromwell. After he had taken the Irish town of Drogheda the citizens were brought to the main square. Cromwell announced to his lieutenants: “Right! Kill all the women and rape all the men.” One of his aides said: “Excuse me, general. Isn’t it the other way around?” A voice from the crowd called out: “Mr Cromwell knows what he’s doing.”
That voice is the voice of Tony Blair – “Mr Bush knows what he’s doing.”
The fact is that Mr Bush and his gang do know what they’re doing and Blair, unless he really is the deluded idiot he often appears to be, also knows what they’re doing. Bush and company are determined, quite simply, to control the world and the world’s resources. And they don’t give a damn how many people they murder on the way. And Blair goes along with it.
He hasn’t the support of the Labour Party, he hasn’t the support of the country or of the celebrated “international community”. How can he justify taking this country into a war nobody wants? He can’t. He can only resort to rhetoric, cliche and propaganda. Little did we think when we voted Blair into power that we would come to despise him. The idea that he has influence over Bush is laughable. His supine acceptance of US bullying is pathetic.
Bullying is, of course, a time-honoured US tradition. Addressing the Greek ambassador to the US in 1965, Lyndon Johnson said: “Fuck your parliament and your constitution. The US is an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. Greece is a flea. If these two fellows continue itching the elephant they may just get whacked by the elephant’s trunk, whacked good.”
He meant what he said. Shortly afterwards the colonels, supported by the US, took over in Greece and the Greek people spent seven years in hell.
As for the US elephant, it has grown to be a monster of grotesque and obscene proportions. The terrible atrocity in Bali does not alter the facts of the case.
The “special relationship” between the US and the UK has, in the last 12 years, brought about the deaths of thousands upon thousands of people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Serbia. All this in pursuit of the US and UK “moral crusade” to bring “peace and stability” to the world.
The use of depleted uranium in the Gulf War has been particularly effective. Radiation levels in Iraq are appallingly high. Babies are born with no brain, no eyes, no genitals. Where they do have ears, mouths or rectums, all that issues from these orifices is blood.
Blair and Bush are of course totally indifferent to such facts, not forgetting the charming, grinning, beguiling Bill Clinton, who was apparently given a standing ovation at the Labour Party conference. For what? Killing Iraqi children? Or Serbian children?
Bush has said: “We will not allow the world’s worst weapons to remain in the hands of the world’s worst leaders.” Quite right. Look in the mirror chum. That’s you.
The US is at this moment developing advanced systems of “weapons of mass destruction”, and is prepared to use them where it sees fit. It has walked away from international agreements on biological and chemical weapons, refusing to allow any inspection of its own factories.
It is holding hundreds of Afghans prisoner in Guantanamo Bay, allowing them no legal redress despite their being charged with nothing, holding them captive virtually for ever.
It is insisting on immunity from the international criminal court, a stance that belegers belief but which is now supported by the UK. The hypocrisy is breathtaking. Tony Blair’s contemptible subservience to this criminal US regime demeans and dishonours this country.
Harold Pinter is a playwright, director, actor, poet and political activist. This text was first delivered as a speech to an anti-war meeting at the House of Commons.