By Thomas, Mark
New Statesman (1996) , Vol. 131, No. 4609
United States Foreign Relations
Hussein, Saddam--International relations
Hussein, Saddam--Military policy
Clinton, Bill--Speeches, lectures and essays
Labour Party (United Kingdom)--Conferences, meetings and seminars
Ex-Presidents--Speeches, lectures and essays
Bill Clinton was greeted with rapture at the Labour Party conference. As he walked on to the stage, delegates cheered in adulation, as if collectively saying: "Is that a cigar in your pocket or are you lust pleased to see me?" And the answer was: "Both."
Then Bill did what he does best, which is peddle half-baked half-truths, untruths and evasions thinly veiled as charisma. And the Labour Party conference did what it does best, which is pop its collective head under Bill's desk to show its appreciation.
In years to come, delegates will fondly recall the time Bill came to speak to them. Misty-eyed, they might even produce garments still waiting to be taken to the dry-cleaners, to prove it was him. What they won't recall is how they and the Great British Press left his lies unchallenged.
The most obvious was the "Saddam Hussein expelled the Unscom weapons inspectors from Iraq" lie. In fact, the US decided to bomb Iraq and told/advised Richard Butler, who led Unscom (the UN watchdog set up after the Gulf war to supervise the dismantling of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction), to withdraw Unscom before the allied bombing raids. Butler recounts the tale in his book Saddam Defiant.
As lies become accepted fact and the ex-president of the United States, the man who ordered the bombing, contradicts his own actions, the world becomes surreal. And the only way to fight surrealism is with surrealism! I therefore propose that Saddam Hussein sue Bill Clinton for libel and seek billions in damages. Obviously, evil murdering dictators are on dodgy ground when trying to prove that their reputations have been harmed, but it would be a start just to see these two where they belong -- in a courtroom.
The press must bear responsibility for allowing the constant drip-drip of Bush and Blair's propaganda to go by unchallenged. So far, the media's in-depth questioning of the pencilled-in war seems to run along the lines of: "Should we kill starving civilians with or without a new UN resolution?" Which brings the level of debate on mass murder down to the Pepsi challenge.
On 7 October, the Guardian reported that the US would keep Israel onside in the event of war by providing the Israelis with free Patriot missiles. If Saddam Hussein launched a Scud missile attack on Tel Aviv, the Patriots (anti-missile missiles) would shoot them from the sky. …