“Let us say one thing. If we are wrong we will have destroyed a threat that, at its least, is responsible for inhuman carnage and suffering. That is something I am confident history will forgive.” (from Tony Blair’s speech to
heads and spokesmen for major US corporationsUS Congress, Thursday 17 July 2003)
How much disgust can I express at a prime minister who comes up with a quote like this to justify a war? A letter in the Guardian today does a good job:
“Tony Blair is sounding more and more like a policeman who, having been found out being selective with the evidence, argues that the suspect was a career criminal and deserved to go down anyway.”
I would add that saying “history will forgive” us if we were wrong about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction (I use the words “us” and “we” consciously: I, along with every voter in Britain, share the blame for this disgrace) is the statement of a colossally arrogant man who believes that he has right on his side by definition. He claims he was right, but even if he is “proved” wrong, then history will overrule the doubters and call him right retroactively.
It’s the statement of a man who will not accept responsibility for his actions. Because all he has to do is wait out any crisis, and history will absolve him of any blame. It’s the statement of a zealot, spoken in the most seductive tones of the language of hate and atrocity.
History will forgive us. God will forgive us. Our reward lies in the afterlife. Kill the infidels.
No. I’m not an expert on forgiveness, but Abi and I have had many discussions on the matter. Forgiveness requires you to take responsibility for your actions, and to show remorse for them.
The Bush and Blair regimes are showing extreme determination not to take responsibility for the evils of their international policies. Despite the war supposedly being at an end, American and British servicemen are still being killed in Iraq. Hundreds of prisoners are still being kept in limbo in Camp Delta on Cuba with no charges having been brought against them. And back here in Britain, a top government scientist appears to have killed himself after being hounded as a scapegoat over allegations that he had spoken to the BBC in order to blow the whistle on certain “facts” in the government’s dossier on Iraq’s weapons capabilities.
Okay, so the foreign office appears to be doing something about some of the British prisoners at Camp Delta, but that still leaves hundreds of others that we are turning our backs on. If you have a British passport, then maybe we can help you. If not, then we’re quite content to let you rot.
This is not the position of a government that is even willing to acknowledge the possibility that they may be held to account over these human rights abuses.
As for the US position on Camp Delta, and how it enjoys special status because it lies outside the boundaries of US law… Fuck that. No, really. Camp Delta is controlled by the US military. Who controls the US military? The US Executive branch. Who can hold the US Executive branch to account for their crimes? The US Judiciary. The chain of responsibility is right there. Claiming that normal US laws about due process don’t apply in Guantanamo is tantamount to saying that the US military are a bunch of mercenaries who operate on their own recognizance, with no oversight, no charter, and no rule other than “might makes right.”
If that’s the case, what is there to stop them from holding the rest of the world to ransom over any perceived slight to their pride and supremacy? Or better yet, turning their sights on the US itself, and deposing its rulers?
I knew it was a mistake to start watching and reading the news again. It just makes me angry, depressed, and frustrated. It sickens me to see our so-called leaders deflecting responsibility to protect their own careers and the backs of their cronies. Unless they consider the possibility that they may be wrong, and take action to mitigate the consequences of their actions, history will not–can not–forgive them. Instead, they will be held up as a shameful example to future generations, a testament to lessons not learned, and a warning against the Sisyphean damnation of eternal repetition.