Blair silent about death of Saddam
What, nothing? Not a peep, not a dickie bird? How long can Blair maintain radio silence? If some soap star had popped her clogs or some Newcastle striker had gone to the great subs bench in the sky, then you may be sure that the Number 10 machine would have chuntered out some tabloid-friendly quote.
This is the Prime Minister who once used an official statement to call for the release of “Deirdre” from her fictional Coronation Street jail — and yet he won’t give the nation the benefit of his views on the death of Saddam Hussein.
You will note that in the case of all the soap queens and pop stars whose deaths were marked by Downing Street, Blair had no personal knowledge of them, let alone responsibility for their deaths. In the case of Saddam Hussein, Blair was not only personally implicated, but for better or worse he has implicated the entire country.
I can’t believe you missed the manner in which they bumped off the former Iraqi leader, but in case you are one of the few on the planet who does not have access to a television or the internet, it was a hellish business.
The viewer was led by cameraphone into some dark dungeon full of hooded men. There was a rope and scaffold, and the only visible face was Saddam’s, looking calm and dignified.
You could see flash after flash from the cameras and hear them goading and taunting a man on the verge of his death. He replied rather mildly.
Then there was a yammering of “Moqtada! Moqtada! Moqtada!”, in honour of the fanatical Shia cleric, and a chanting of the name of the Prophet, and then — whoosh — almost in slow motion you saw him fall through the trap.
There was a great scuffling, and joyous shouts, and at last you had what they call the money shot: a man in death, his bloody neck at right angles.
Was this what we fought for? Is this really the lesson in human rights and Western values we hoped to deliver to the people of Iraq? This wasn’t justice. This was a sectarian lynch mob. This was a snuff movie.
How dare the Prime Minister pretend that it is somehow nothing to do with him? He was the only Western leader of any importance to join George W. Bush in the war to remove Saddam.
It was Blair who sent thousands of British troops to join the coalition, and Blair who authorised the spending of at least £5 billion on a war in Mesopotamia, and it was Blair who was therefore directly co-responsible for putting Saddam Hussein on the end of that rope.
Bush has at least had the guts to say something. Why not Tony? It is ridiculous to suggest that a silence is somehow tactful because this “is a matter for the Iraqis”.
The trial itself was a farce, and, as for the six judges who attempted to preside, their careers can be summarised like the wives of Henry VIII: assassinated, resigned, sacked, resigned, sacked, survived (for now). Seven of the other lawyers were murdered, including Saddam’s chief defence lawyer.
As for the suggestion that this was nothing to do with us, but “independent Iraqi justice”, what total and utter tripe. Let us leave on one side the laughable suggestion that “America and Britain do not intervene in the affairs of sovereign Iraq” (tell that to Saddam). At every stage the Americans were in charge.
Saddam was guarded by American soldiers, and ministered to by American nurses, and it was in an American helicopter that the “witnesses” were taken to the execution.
The Iraqis could have performed this job only with the active and intimate support of the coalition, of which we are meant to be partners.
Did we say nothing about the death penalty, against which this country now has a constitutional opposition? And how can Blair keep silent about that chilling note of Shia triumphalism?
This Moqtada al-Sadr is the leader of a vicious militia directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of thousands of Shias and Sunnis, as well as hundreds of British troops, and here they are — cheering his name in the death chamber, at the moment of Saddam’s execution.
Was that really our game-plan? You may recall that most Arabs are Sunnis, and deeply mistrustful of the Shias, and you may have noticed that we are ratcheting up the pressure on Shia Iran, and yet our crowning achievement in Iraq has been to hand it over to an Iranian-backed Shia militia.
Or am I wrong? If so, please could the Prime Minister get a T-shirt on and get out of that Bee Gee mansion and just for 30 seconds could he do what he normally does with such practised ease almost every day.
Come on Tony, give us one of your sound bites. What is your reaction to the Saddam snuff movie? It was Tony Blair who persuaded so many of us that Iraq would be better off without Saddam. Can he give a single piece of evidence in support of that claim?
Perhaps he can, even though 58,000 civilians have died, and 100 are dying every day; but we want it from the man himself. We don’t want to hear any more from Margaret Beckett, with her babble about opposing the death penalty and yet being glad that Saddam “has been held to account”. You can hold someone to account without strangling them in a dungeon, Margaret.
And we don’t want Prescott with his moronic complaint that the release of the snuff movie was tasteless, as though the content itself was innocuous.
I want to hear from Blair himself. What does it tell him about his legacy in Iraq, that the execution of Saddam was accompanied by sectarian taunts and shouts? What does that tell him about his defining political accomplishment?
“You can tell, by the way I walk, I’m a busy man, no time to talk”, sang the Bee Gees. Well, if Blair is so busy on his yachts that he has no time to talk to the British people, then he should stay in that Bee Gee mansion.
If he can’t articulate his thoughts — our thoughts — on the disgusting death of Saddam, then he has ceased to give leadership. His premiership is effectively over.