Because someone has to…
While this submission to the March 19th Blogswarm seems extremely tardy, I assume the reader that it isn’t. I expected most people and the mainstream media to focus on American military expenditures and the U.S. body count inching its way up to 4000 with a few enterprising souls reminding us that Iraqi’s and Afghans are dying too and in that order. What I am concerned with did not get much mention at all, even when it originally transpired there was scant reportage and what notice that did exist failed to acknowledge the gravity of the matter. This of course is exactly what the Bush administration needed and wanted. And the American press allowed them to get away with it.
If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m referring to the Downing Street Memorandum, the leaked document detailing the minutes of a classified July 2002 meeting between then British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his senior intelligence advisers namely England’s real life “C”, Sir Richard Dearlove.
The memorandum was first published on May 1 in the Sunday Times of London and initially caused a substantial alarm on both sides of the pond. The Times quite objectively articulated how the Blair government was forced, according to Sir Dearlove, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Attoney-General Lord Goldsmith, to support the United States militarily and morally in their plans to invade and occupy Iraq and that the “…intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” It goes further to point out that the Bush administration was already set to attack Iraq and was maneuvering the available intelligence and was already bombing Iraq to arrange for the ground invasion. This was roughly a year before the real invasion formally commenced.
Sometime later, the Sunday Times printed yet another exposé proving that UK cabinet members were informed of the Blair government’s commitment towards a US-led invasion of Iraq and that it was their responsibility to shore up support for the action. Most importantly, this memo was written before the particular Downing Street meeting that produced the damning Downing Street Memorandum.
Ominously headed with the proviso: "This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its content," this five-page memorandum, which was only disseminated to a small circle of Mr. Blair's most senior assistants remained shielded from the public. However snippets had previously appeared in a book "Lawless World," written by international law professor Philippe Sands and a UK Channel 4 report in February broadcast brief passages from the memorandum itself. In spite of the volatile information contained in these documents, U.S. mainstream media has spent little attention on this issue and Bush administration officials openly ridicule any speculation on the matter. Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman reported that not until June 7, after more than a solid month of near total media silence, a single reporter employed by the Reuters international news service finally questioned President Bush and Tony Blair on the Downing Street minutes. Their answers were as dismissive as they were insulting to every citizen of a democratic society in the supposed enlightened West.
Yet we still spend countless hours spinning on the aftermath rather than the cause. This is partly due to the fact that most of the U.S. population was fine with the invasion provided the U.S. did not lose anything in life or material. Since that has not happened, just like with Vietnam, Americans are not so sure about empire anymore since the U.S. is losing ground and stability. I still contend that if the U.S. had the country pacified on schedule the anti-war debate would be minimal. As George Patton said it some years back, “Americans will not tolerate a loser.” And this “conflict” is nearing that conclusion. Fighting a war while fighting recession and social depression at home cannot work.
So I can list the usual points of contention surrounding Iraq like the following:
The Cost to Our Forces in Iraq
Nearly 4,000 American troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the war. (as of today, according to Iraq Coalition Casualties, 3,990 are confirmed dead)
29,395: Number of U.S. service members that have been wounded in hostile action since the start of U.S. military operations in Iraq. [AP, 3/11/08]
The Cost to Iraqis
82,000-89,000: Estimate of Iraqi civilians casualties from violence since the beginning of the Iraq War. [Iraq Body Count]
4.5 Million: Number of Iraqi refugees both inside and outside the country. [Washington Post, 3/17/08]
The Cost of Funding the War
$12 Billion: Direct cost per month of the Iraq War. [Washington Post, Bilmes and Stiglitz Op-Ed, 3/9/08]
$526 Billion: Amount of money already appropriated by Congress for the War in Iraq.
$3 Trillion: Total estimated cost of the Iraq War. [Washington Post, Bilmes and Stiglitz Op-Ed, 3/9/08]
$5 Trillion - $7 Trillion: Total cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan accounting for continued military operations, growing debt and interest payments and continuing health care and counseling costs for veterans. [McClatchy, 2/27/08]
(sourced from: Urban World Online)
But this list and similar collections do not get to the basis of proving culpability in illegal military aggression. This is where it seems to be a case of left-wing and right-wing group-think. I agree and without reservation that these are all very, very important issues. But where did it all begin? We all know now that former Secretary of State Colin Powell is a liar and had the gall to appear before the world community at the United Nations with a university student’s paper he lifted off of the Internet, don’t we? We also should all know that just months before the big run-up began in the media that both Condi Rice and Powell opined that Iraq did not have the means or the will to oppose the United States or its neighbors as evidenced by all that video of them saying so floating around in cyberspace. There’s the State of the Nation speech before the invasion, there’s Don “Known Unknowns” Rumsfeld and VP Dick “Can’t Shoot Strait” Cheney saying that they knew where the weapons of mass destruction were and all of the gang swearing to their God that 911 was a joint Iraq- Al Qaeda production.
On at least 935 separate occasions, at least eight members of the Bush administration, including the President himself intentionally and issued false statements regarding Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction, Iraqi links to Al Qaeda and 911 or both, according to a new study by the Center for Public Integrity. In speeches, conferences and interviews, President Bush, all of the king’s men and women such as then Secretary of State Colin Powell, then Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and White House press geeks Ari Fleischer and unforgettable “Simple” Scotty McClellan, affirmed unambiguously that Iraq indeed had weapons of mass destruction, sometimes they said Iraq was trying to produce or obtain them, but they generally stuck to the story of Iraq as the next fascist superpower with a madman ready to push the button. This was the whole ideological foundation of the Bush administration’s, Halliburton’s and Turner, Brown and Root’s rationale for war, invasion and eternal occupation in Iraq.
The Center's report has been documented in a fully searchable 380,000-word database, assembled from primary and secondary public sources, major news organizations and more than 25 government reports, books, articles, speeches, and interviews. I suggest you go take a look at it. You will be amazed at what you seem to be able to find easily while the crack professional press corps seem to miss each and every time.
This is the intrinsic value of the Downing Street memo. This manuscript is the first hard evidence from within either the UK or U.S. governments that uncovers the reality of U.S. corporate greed regarding how the Iraq war began. It does not name the American business community directly, but one look at the Bush administration members curriculum vitaes shows that every member of Bush’s inner sanctum is also a professional capitalist of the highest order. This war, invasion and occupation of Iraq has only benefited corporate shareholders, not the Iraq citizens nor the mainstream American public.
Automobile fuel is nearly four USD in most states, the cost of grains and other food commodities have skyrocketed with many people forced to sell their personal items in order to make ends meet. American soldiers are committing suicide in increasing numbers and the U.S. military death toll continues to mount. All three business sponsored presidential candidates swear to fight Muslim terrorism while accepting political endorsements from American Christian theological extremists.
How much more empirical evidence does the Congress need to impeach? The only politicians concerned with getting to the root of this are Rep. John Conyers and Rep. Barbara Lee who tried in vain to force President G. Bush to directly respond to the issues the Downing Street memo raises. With the White House and its documented hostility to due process, rule of law and practice of practical democracy barring the debate, nothing has happened. And the press has done it very best to make sure these questions are not asked.
Like with the charges of White Phosphorous a.k.a. “Willy Pete” being used in Fallujah against non-combatant civilians, such details are ignored. So is the “accidental” killing of an Italian intelligence agent in Iraq who was trying to extract a reporter involved in the information presented in the Italian news documentary, Fallujah: the Hidden Massacre, by the state broadcaster RAI. The film was never shown in the U.S. but international audiences saw everything, such as bodies of women and children half-melted and black-burned inside their clothing or the eyewitness testimonies of people running while their skin was peeling from them after contact. These stories are skipped in the American media as well.
If the Geneva Conventions and international accords have any bearing at all, the Downing Street Memorandum demands attention. It always has, only we have all allowed American Exceptionalism to mute the truth, which has always been right in front of us the entire time.
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