Suddenly, explorations of truth threaten to be the vogue. George W. Bush is the latest convert. He has been generous enough to make the following confession last weekend: “I too want the American people to know the facts. I want to be able to compare what the Iraq Survey Group has found with what we thought prior to going into Iraq.” The president of the United States of America has accordingly decided to set up an “independent” commission, consisting of both Republicans and Democrats; its task will be to inquire into the nature and quality of the pre-war intelligence that Saddam Hussein had massively stockpiled in Iraq weapons of mass destruction. That intelligence has turned out to be a myth. Meanwhile, though, Iraq has been destroyed.
What else could poor George W. Bush do' In the beginning, it was only a dead David Kelly; but the departed British micro-biologist has since been joined by David Kay, the distinguished American citizen who presided over the official US Iraq Survey Group searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Kay too has given up: there are, he has offered his verdict, no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Saddam Hussein had not stashed them, nor had anybody else.
George W. Bush is a conscientious man. He ordered and executed the destruction of Iraq. He now confesses, after the event, that he and his cronies had proceeded on the basis of pre-conceived notions: they thought Saddam was a blackguard. Because they did not like Saddam’s face, they suspected him to be the devil incarnate and therefore proceeded to make a bonfire of Iraq, the country Saddam ruled. Now that the Iraq Survey Group’s — and David Kay’s — surmise is different, George W. Bush will arrange to explore facts further. Once the “true” facts are revealed, the American public will be posted with the relevant information with despatch.
Evidence was not important, mere suspicion was enough to pass the death sentence on Iraq. American courts will not send somebody to the gallows on the basis of suspicion or prejudice; they will insist on cold facts. Where imperialist international relations are concerned, it is however different: no evidence of evil-doing is necessary; you crush weak and helpless nations under your imperialist boot just for the fun of it. Should the evidence dug out by the proposed bipartisan commission not provide even the lamest excuse for the accomplished act of imperial aggrandisement, George W. Bush will be prepared to say sorry to the American public — but not to the Iraqi people. There is no reason to be flabbergasted. It is not necessary to apologize to the Iraqis; after all, has not Bush liberated them from the clutches of tyranny' The Iraqis are at present free; they are savouring their liberation. In any event, the US president has already gone on record: where what he considers to be the paramount interests of the US are involved, he would proceed according to his own predilection, silly resolutions passed in the United Nations fora will not restrain him.
This is imperialism in imperialism’s clothing, no hide and seek about it. In the United Kingdom, they perhaps do things with greater panache. The government there commissioned a proper judge, Lord Brian Hutton of Bresagh, County of Down, Northern Ireland, to do the moral whitewashing of the imperial misadventure. Lord Hutton has impeccable credentials. He was the judge who absolved British troops from all culpability for the Bloody Sunday massacre of civil rights protestors they perpetrated in 1972; he was also the judicial luminary in 1999 who came to the rescue of General Pinochet, the notorious former dictator, whom another judge had ordered to be extradited from Britain to democratic Chile for standing trial for the innumerable atrocities that took place during his regime. A leopard never changes his spots. The judge, Hutton, living up to his reputation, has absolved Tony Blair of the burden of guilt for David Kelly’s suicide. But he has not stopped there. He has spun out a long dissertation justifying Blair’s role as George W. Bush’s loyal toady in the Iraq war. The judge has chosen to enrich jurisprudence with metaphysics of the most exalted order. It will be permissible, he has argued, to draw a distinction between using intelligence which subsequently proved to be false and using intelligence to prop up the case for war knowing it to be false. Translated into plain language, the Hutton reconstruction of the criminality indulged in by the British prime minister is as follows: “Poor Tony, he followed the US president into Iraq because he thought he had the facts that proved Saddam was a rogue; it is only later that he got to gather information which proved otherwise, but bygones are bygones.” Unfortunately, after the US president’s capitulation, Blair the poodle cannot afford to rest on the Hutton laurels, he too has agreed to order an inquiry, ex post, on the quality of British intelligence on Iraq.
Ponder over the import of these developments. A judge, representing the highest stratum of British judiciary, is laying down the doctrine: as ground for committing aggression against another country, which is sovereign and an equal partner in the UN, one’s first impressions about the nefariousness of rulers of that country are more than sufficient, facts are of no account. Tony Blair is to be pardoned because what else could he do, he had to rely on first impressions. The judicial pronouncement concerning international relations is silent on the role of the UN; it is as if the organization does not exist — the British sense of realism, you could almost say.
A question nonetheless arises. If it were a domestic issue, say a case of murder in Hampstead, would the same judge be ready to hang somebody on the basis of sheer impression without bothering about facts' He would not; he would actually be scandalized at such a suggestion.
But there it is, imperialism scorns logic and the concept of symmetry: our jurisprudence is for ourselves, who are superior and civilized, it does not apply to beings belonging to inferior nations, who are to be liquidated at our sweet will, no flummery of international law must intervene.
The nitty-gritty of this savage code has a significance of its own. It is a globalized world, marked by spellbinding technological progress, whose fountainhead is supposed to be rationality and application of scientific knowledge; the over-all domain is however of irrationality — the globe is in total charge of a bunch of countries, led by specimens whose moral sense will put to shame a guttersnake.
It is, in other words, a comprehensive non-civilization. Unless some accidents happen, such barbarism is henceforth going to be the reigning order. The first-sentence-to-death-for-murder-then-search-for-supporting-evidence can be extended in infinite directions. A point in time may arrive when some could feel tempted to apply this transnational law even with respect to affairs at home. Not facts, but suspicion, will then rule the roost. Once that situation arrives, revolution will shake hands with counter-revolution, despotism will be inseparable from a structured legal system. We will recede to the rude state of nature when everyone will be on a permanent ego-trip: the law is what I think it to be, and please no questions. This jurisprudence, let us also have the courage to acknowledge, will co-exist with a technological ambience where, to save one’s own job and standard of living, it will be necessary to cut out, ruthlessly, all competition. Each unit of humanity will be an imperialist at heart — as well as in action.
Will it not be bliss to be alive in that dawn' Our appreciative thanks to George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Lord Hutton and the rest of the tribe. They are redefining the human discourse.