It has been almost 10 years since the US and Britain unleashed ‘shock and awe’ on the Iraqi capital Baghdad ostensibly to punish a rogue dictator for hoarding weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in non-compliance with binding UNSC resolutions. In reality, Saddam Hussein had shut down his nuclear programme and destroyed Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons more than a decade earlier.

The UN weapons inspectors were almost certain of this fact and were on the point of giving Iraq a clean bill of health, until they were leant-on by Uncle Sam. Indeed, the man who had supervised Iraq’s WMD programme for a decade, Saddam’s son-in-law Hussain Kamal, confirmed as much to CIA intelligence officers and UN officials following his defection to Jordan in 1995.

What was done to Iraq was nothing short of state terrorism beginning with 10 years of crippling sanctions that brought Iraq to its knees and were believed to have been responsible for the deaths of up to 500,000 children, who died from malnutrition, lack of medicine and disease from polluted water supplies.

Rather than heed growing international calls to lift those sanctions, George W. Bush and his neoconservative band chose war, which they and their British cohort Prime Minister Tony Blair then sold to gullible Western populations on lies too numerous to list. They were aided by a complicit right-wing media with Rupert Murdoch leading the charge, according to the diaries of Blair’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell.

Blair was aware that the war would be illegal in the absence of an explicit UN resolution, as his legal advisor Attorney General Lord Goldsmith had determined, but he went ahead regardless even as millions of anti-war protestors thronged London’s streets. He did not hesitate to sign-off on an intelligence dossier for public consumption falsely claiming that Iraq could deploy WMD against British interests within 45 minutes of receiving the order to do so.

Credible insiders who dared to challenge such nonsense such as weapons expert Dr David Kelly, who challenged the 45-minute claim; Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who refuted Bush’s allegation that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium from Niger; and British translator Katherine Gunn who disclosed that the US was spying on UNSC members, were discredited.

Kelly was found dead in suspicious circumstances; Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame was exposed as a CIA agent by a US government media lackey. Gunn was arrested for breaching the Official Secrets Act and sacked.

In short, the war was one of the world’s greatest cons. It had nothing to do with Iraq’s WMD or the removal of a dictator; it was part of a greater neoconservative plan to ensure America’s global domination as General Wesley Clark confirmed in his book, “Winning Modern Wars: Iraq, Terrorism and the American Empire”.

“As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.”

Up to a million Iraqis lost their lives, as a result of the war and subsequent invasion and occupation. According to the respected journal, The Lancet, over 600,000 had been killed as of July 2006, not to mention thousands of US and coalition military personnel.

The deadly duo should be sharing a cell in The Hague awaiting trial for war crimes, but as we see time and time again, victors’ justice translates to no justice at all.

The writer is a specialist on Middle East Affairs. This article has been reproduced from the Gulf News.Email: lheard@gulfnews.com