Just as the
London bombs in the summer of 2005 were Blair’s bombs, the inevitable
consequence of his government’s lawless attack on Iraq, so the potential
bombs in the summer of 2007 are Brown’s bombs. Gordon Brown, Blair’s
successor as prime minister, has been an unerring supporter of the
unprovoked bloodbath whose victims now equal those of the Rwandan
genocide, according to the American scientist who led the 2006 Johns
Hopkins School of Public Health survey of civilian dead in Iraq.
While Tony Blair sought to discredit this study, British government
scientists secretly praised it as "tried and tested" and
an "underestimation of mortality." The "underestimation"
was 655,000 men, women and children. That is now approaching a million.
It is the crime of the century.
In his first
day’s address outside 10 Downing Street and subsequently to Parliament,
Brown paid not even lip service to those who would be alive today
had his government — and it was his government as much as Blair’s
— not joined Bush in a slaughter justified with demonstrable lies.
He said nothing, not a word.
He said nothing
about the added thousands of Iraqi children whose deaths from preventable
disease have doubled since the invasion, caused by the willful destruction
of sanitation and water purification plants. He said nothing about
hospital patients who die every day for want of equipment as basic
as a syringe. He said nothing about the greatest refugee flight
since the Palestinians’ Naqba. He said nothing about his government’s
defeat in Afghanistan, and how the British army and its NATO allies
are killing civilians, including whole families. Typically, on 29
June, British forces called in air strikes on a village, reportedly
bombing to death 45 innocent people — almost as many as the number
bombed to death in London in July 2005. Compare the reaction, or
rather the silence. They were only Muslims. And Muslims are the
world’s most numerous victims of a terrorism whose main sources
are Washington, Tel Aviv and London.
And he said
nothing about his government’s role in Afghanistan’s restoration
as the world’s biggest source of opium, a direct result of the invasion
of 2001. Any dealer on the streets of Glasgow will have the stuff,
straight from warlords paid off by the CIA and in whose name British
soldiers are killing and dying pointlessly.
He said nothing
about stopping any of this. Not a word. Not a hint.
Do the dead
laugh? In the new Prime Minister’s little list of priorities was
"extend[ing] the British way of life."
of the greatest British foreign policy disaster of the modern era,
Brown could not even speak its name, let alone meet the military
families that waited to speak to him. Three British soldiers were
killed on his first day.
Has there been
anything like the tsunami of unction that has engulfed the departure
of Blair and the elevation of Brown? Yes, there has. Think back
a decade. Blair, wrote Hugo Young of the Guardian, "wants
to create a world none of us has known, where the laws of political
gravity are overturned," one where "ideology has surrendered
entirely to u2018values’." The new chancellor, effused the Observer,
would "announce the most radical welfare Budget since the Second
were fake and so was the new deal. One media-managed stunt followed
another as Brown delighted the stock market and comforted the very
rich and celebrated the empire, and ignored the longing of the British
electorate for a restoration of public services so badly damaged
by Margaret Thatcher. One of the first decisions by Harriet Harman,
Blair’s first social security secretary and a declared feminist,
was to abolish the single parents’ welfare premium and benefit,
in spite of her pledge to the House of Commons that Labour opposed
these impoverishing Tory-inspired cuts. Today, Harman is Brown’s
deputy party leader and, like all of the "new faces" around
the cabinet table with "plans to heal old wounds" (the
Guardian), she voted for an invasion that has destroyed the lives
of tens of thousands of women.
And when Blair
finally left, those MPs who stood and gave him a standing ovation
finally certified parliament as a place of minimal consequence to
British democracy. The courtiers who reported this disgrace with
Richard Dimbleby royal-occasion reverence are flecked with the blood
spilled by the second-rate actor and first-rate criminal. They now
scramble for the latest police press release. That the profane absurdity
of the going of Blair and the silence and compliance of Brown —
political twins regardless of their schoolboy spats — may well have
provoked the attacks on London and Glasgow is of no interest. While
the crime of the century endures, there almost certainly will be
Pilger was born and educated in Sydney, Australia. He has been
a war correspondent, filmmaker and playwright. Based in London,
he has written from many countries and has twice won British journalism’s
highest award, that of "Journalist of the Year," for his
work in Vietnam and Cambodia. His new book, Tell
Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism and Its Triumphs, is
published by Jonathan Cape in June. This article was first published
in the New Statesman.
John Pilger 2007