by Tony Benn (January 7, 2003)
For the last few months we have been subjected to the most powerful war propaganda, designed to brainwash us into believing that war with Iraq is both necessary and inevitable.
Television pictures of war planes taking off from U.S. aircraft carriers are mixed with stories of troop movements and the establishment of a huge command HQ in Qatar, while Britain offers uncritical support for its US allies.
To whip up the hatred to a fever pitch, the Foreign Office issues a dossier of human rights abuses by Saddam, all of which we have known for years, but which have been released at this moment to make it appear that the war, when it comes, is motivated by a humane desire to lift the burden of fear from the people of Iraq by killing even more of them in a series of murderous air attacks.
But, if we are to understand exactly what is happening, we have to look beyond all these threats directed to Saddam.
The real story is that President Bush is actually threatening the UN and its role in resolving this crisis, with the long-term objective of dismantling the UN and substituting the forces of his US empire as the only true ruler of the world, able to guarantee its own oil supplies.
This also explains his policy toward Chavez in Venezuela - which also supplies a lot of oil - a man seen as unreliable and so an attempted coup was launched from Washington to get him out.
It failed and may be tried again as one of those backyard regime changes which the US has carried out in the past - as when Salvador Allende was overthrown with the help of the CIA.
It all began even before September 11, when the White House began to realize that the supplies of the Middle Eastern oil, upon which its whole economy depends, were vulnerable.
Iraq is hostile, Iran is unreliable and Saudi Arabia - which has no democracy whatever - might find its regime toppled by Muslim fundamentalists who want to see US troops leave the country.
Then based in Afghanistan, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was also important, because the US needed a pipeline through that country to bring the Caspian oil to the Western market and, although the Taliban had discussed this in Texas before Bush came to power, there was no certainty that it would go ahead.
If bin Laden had been caught and tried, his evidence in court would have proved too damaging, since he had been launched as a terrorist by the US itself, sent to Afghanistan to oust the Soviets and worked from bases which the US helped him build.
As a prisoner on trial for his life, he would have been only too glad to tell all.
For these reasons, Bush decided to transfer the anti-terrorist crusade from bin Laden to Saddam, who had nothing to do with September 11, and to widen the war of words into a direct threat against the UN itself - as he did when he issued his ultimatum to the General Assembly ordering it to support his war or he would go it alone.
Since the Security Council passed its resolution, Iraq has invited the UN inspectors back, cooperated with them in allowing access to all the sites they have wanted to visit and met the deadline set by the security council for a declaration of all the weapons it possesses.
These developments have caused alarm and anger in Washington, since the last thing Bush wants is a peaceful solution to the crisis, which would not help him with the oil he needs.
A major effort has therefore been made to discredit the UN inspectors and the Iraqi declaration of its weapons has been physically seized by the US government so that members of the Security Council cannot even get to see the Iraqi declaration that it, itself, demanded.
Against this background, it is even more unlikely that the Security Council will agree to authorize a war, so Bush is hoping that, by discrediting it, as he has done, people can be persuaded that he must act alone.
Meanwhile, the propaganda war goes on apace and, today, everyone can see that it is designed to undermine the UN so that Bush can launch the war for oil that the US corporations want.
One last hope remains and it is that, if Blair stuck to the UN instead of taking orders from the White House, it would become very difficult - if not impossible - for Bush to carry US opinion in a war that the US would be fighting without a single ally.
Britain currently provides a thin cover of legitimacy for what he wants to do.
In short, Blair has the power of veto on this one occasion. That is why we must step up the pressure on him in every way that we can and work with those courageous US citizens - many millions of them, - who are also against the war and are demonstrating to show their opposition publicly.
That is why the CND case in the High Court this week is so important in asking for a judgement declaring that Britain cannot disregard its international obligations by going to war without the authority of the Security Council.
"With all its weaknesses, the United Nations remains humanity's best hope of finding the means to settle its many differences peacefully.