CLARE SHORT, one-time International Development Minister, revealed to the Chilcot Inquiry yesterday just how Blair, with the aid of Goldsmith, deceived the Cabinet and then parliament into making war on Iraq.
She told the Inquiry that she was a loyal Blairite and supported the government’s stated policy on Iraq. This was to seek to resolve the issue through the Security Council.
She was shocked by the rush to war and the way that she was jeered in Cabinet when she asked the Attorney General, Goldsmith, on the eve of the war, if his last minute advice meant that he had changed his position on the war.
She said that Goldsmith was prepared to answer but Blair told her to keep quiet, and that she was jeered by the Blair claque.
It turns out, however, that she was not opposed to war with Iraq on principle, just that it was unnecessary at that time.
She was opposed to the position of Robin Cook who said that Iraq was being contained and that the current policy was working.
She felt that the way that UN sanctions were killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children was unacceptable.
Unlike Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of State under Clinton, she did not feel that the deaths of 1.5 million Iraqis was a ‘price worth paying’ to weaken Saddam in order to remove him.
Short wanted the sanctions lifted, and the inspections to continue, and to call in the Saudis and other Gulf feudal regimes to work out how to behead the Ba’athist regime, and to organise a Ba’athist Iraq without Saddam and his sons in charge.
Since there was no military danger from Iraq she said that this manoeuvre could have been carried out slowly and deliberately.
She mocked the military men and other specialists who admitted that if Iraq did have bacteriological weaponry, the British did not have an antidote anyway.
Short was sidelined, thrust aside, vilified and told to shut up.
In the run-up to war there was not a single thorough discussion in the Cabinet, that is the government of the country, on the war and its implications.
In fact, there had been a coup against parliamentary democracy and Blair and his coterie ruled the country, using press media briefings to silence those who were seeming to question policy.
Through this coup British imperialism was placed at the disposal of the US ruling class and the Bush presidency.
As Short showed this coup against parliamentary Cabinet rule was carried out with just token resistance offered.
Cook opposed the rush to war, resigned and voted against in the House of Commons, but, as Short reported, was missing from a number of important Cabinet meetings.
She told how Brown seemed to oppose the war in conversation with her and compared it with Thatcher’s war to reconquer the Malvinas as an exercise to strengthen the regime through a quick military victory.
As soon as there were some murmurs against the policy he, however, backed Blair and blamed the French, and stopped inviting Short to Number 11 for coffee.
Blair’s coup was in fact bloodless at home, with only one casualty, Cook. The casualties, however, totalled millions of dead and refugees in Iraq.
The only force that fought against this abolition of parliamentary rule and its consequences was the British workers.
They marched in their millions against the war and the Blair dictatorship, but were studiously ignored by Brown and Short and all the bourgeois parties.
The British workers must react to the debacle revealed by the Chilcot Inquiry in a revolutionary way.
They must demand that all UK troops are withdrawn from the Middle East and the Gulf at once, and organise a socialist revolution to smash British imperialism and its corrupt parliamentary dictatorship.