Murdoch’s Iraq Warby Farooque Chowdhury
‘Mysteries’ of the Iraq War are getting exposed: Rupert Murdoch, the media moghul, pressed Tony Blair, the British prime minister, to hasten joining the Iraq War. Murdoch did it on behalf of the US Republicans. And, the war took 100,000 lives.
It is not only the interests behind waging the war, but also the principles and interests bourgeois press uphold, and the secretive and conspiratorial way bourgeois democracy works, lies are fabricated, readers are informed, and mass psychology is manipulated are being divulged.
The Guardian, a British newspaper, and the AFP, a news agency, reported the facts. The news reports said:
‘Rupert Murdoch took part in an “over-crude” attempt by US Republicans to push Tony Blair into action before the invasion of Iraq, the former British prime minister’s ex-media chief [Alastair Campbell] claimed.
‘Alastair Campbell said the News Corporation media baron warned Blair in a phone call of the dangers in delaying signing up to the March 19, 2003 invasion, as part of an attempt to speed up Britain joining the military campaign.’
Campbell’s assertions were made in The Burden of Power: Countdown to Iraq, diaries from his years at Blair’s side.
The news reports said:
‘Campbell suggested Murdoch made moves to help the right-wing Republican Party of then US president George W. Bush before the March 18 vote in the … House of Commons on deploying troops to Iraq, which was passed.’
Citing Campbell the news reports said:
On March 11, 2003, Blair ‘took a call from Murdoch who was pressing on timings, saying how News International would support us …’
The reports said:
‘‘Both TB [Tony Blair] and I felt it was prompted by Washington, and another example of their over-crude diplomacy. Murdoch was pushing all the Republican buttons, how the longer we waited the harder it got.
‘Campbell said Murdoch’s intervention came “out of the blue”.
‘On one level (Murdoch) was trying to be supportive, saying “I know this is a very difficult place, my papers are going to support you on this”. Fine.
‘But I think Tony did feel that there was something a bit crude about it. It was another very right-wing voice saying to him: “Look, isn’t it about time you got on with this?”’
The news reports said:
‘Gordon Brown agitated so aggressively against Tony Blair — demanding a departure date soon after the 9/11 attacks — that Downing Street concluded in 2002 that the then chancellor was “hell-bent on TB’s destruction”.
Murdoch’s ‘worldwide contacts through the businesses that’ he operated should not be missed while going through the news items.
However, in his witness statement to the Leveson inquiry, Murdoch said: ‘As for the three telephone calls with the then prime minister, Tony Blair, in 2003, I cannot recall what I discussed with him now … or indeed even if I spoke with him at all. I understand that published reports indicate that calls were placed by him to me. What I am sure about is that I would not in any telephone call have conveyed a secret message of support for the war; the NI titles’ position on Iraq was a matter of public record before 11 March 2003.’ His famous declaration: ‘I’ve never asked a prime minister for anything.’ He cited ‘four articles from the Sun and the News of the World which illustrated their “pro-war stance” before 11 March 2003 when the main phone call took place.’
The media moghul’s company termed the assertion that he lobbied Blair over the Iraq War on behalf of the US Republicans ‘complete rubbish’. It said: ‘Furthermore, there isn’t even any evidence in Alastair Campbell’s diaries to support such a ridiculous claim.’
It should be mentioned that News International is News Corp’s British newspaper arm, publishing The Times, The Sun and The Sunday Times. Blair faced a challenge getting his Labour Party lawmakers to back the UK’s involvement. Many of them rebelled. (‘Murdoch pushed Blair on Iraq: ex-media chief’ and ‘Rupert Murdoch pressured Tony Blair over Iraq, says Alastair Campbell’, June 16, 2012)
Already known is the Bush- Blair 2003 Iraq memo or Manning memo, a secret memo of a meeting between Bush and Blair. The historic meeting took place on January 31, 2003 in the White House. The memo, written by David Manning, Blair’s chief foreign adviser, showed that the US had already decided on the invasion of Iraq at that point. Manning participated at the meeting.
The memo showed Bush and Blair made a secret deal to carry out the invasion regardless of whether WMD were discovered by UN inspectors. The fact contradicts statements Blair made to the British parliament that Saddam Hussein would be given a final chance to disarm.
Existence of the memo was made public by Philippe Sands in his book Lawless World. The New York Times collected the memo and confirmed its authenticity.
Then, there is the Colin Powell case. While arguing for invading Iraq Powel claimed that Saddam was hiding a secret biological weapons programme. Powell dramatically and confidently held up a vial he said could contain anthrax during his presentation of the Iraq case at the UN in 2003. But, later, the claim proved bogus.
Powel relied on information provided by an Iraqi defector. The defector was code-named ‘Curveball’. CBS News identified Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi as ‘Curveball’. Rafid made the false claims to German intelligence officials. The US used the claim that ultimately turned a lie. But the Empire used the false information to start the war. The UN inspectors found no evidence of a biological weapons program, which was claimed.
In interviews with The Guardian, Rafid told the way he sought asylum in Germany and wanted to see an end to Saddam’s regime. ‘They gave me this chance. I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime. I and my sons are proud of that…’
The ‘story’ of falsehood and fabrication doesn’t end there.
Citing Britain’s The Independent, Thomas Ferguson, senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, wrote: The Independent news report ‘buries forever all claims that the US, the UK, and other governments did not have oil on their minds as they prepared to invade Iraq.’ He referred to a book that drew on more than a thousand secret government documents. These show meetings between the UK government and British oil companies in the run up to the war. ‘These demonstrate that all the denials in London and Washington that policymakers were not concerned about oil as they invaded were as false as the famous cover story about weapons of mass destruction.’ These also show that all the governments were negotiating over rights to oil long before the invasion and that they were working closely with their companies. Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force was reviewing documents on Iraqi oil well before the attack on 9/11. (‘Oil-Soaked Politics: Secret U.K. Docs on Iraq’)
So, the profit issue emerges. The Iraq war brought profit to all interested: weaponeer, supplier, infrastructureer, defence contractor, mercenary companies, and a section of media and politicians.
According to MSN Money, Halliburton’s KBR, Inc. division made $17.2 billion in the desert war in the 2003-2006 period, which was one-fifth of KBR’s total revenue for the 2006 fiscal year. Halliburton was involved with construction and maintenance of military bases, oil field repairs, and infrastructure rebuilding projects in the country.
Veritas Capital Fund/DynCorp, the private equity fund, gathered $1.44 billion through its DynCorp subsidiary by imparting training to new Iraqi police forces. The company is termed by many as a ‘state within a state’.
Through repair, maintenance, etc work in Iraqi oil fields the Washington Group International gathered $931 million in the period 2003-2006. Through the work of munitions disposal the Environmental Chemical got $878 million by the end of fiscal 2006. The Aegis of the UK made $430 million. (‘25 Most Vicious Iraq War Profiteers’)
And, after the Bush Blair, Murdoch, Halliburton war business where Iraq stood?
Thomas E Ricks, the Washington Post’s Pentagon correspondent quoted Mohammed Abdullah, an Iraqi, in his Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq: ‘They said they came to liberate us. Liberate us from what? They came and said they would free us. Free us from what? We have traditions, morals, and customs. We are Arabs. We’re different from the West. Baghdad is the mother of Arab culture, and they want to wipe out our culture, absolutely.’
Iraq now stands devastated, a bold sign of Naked Imperialism (title of a book by John Bellamy Foster). Parts of life in the land have been wiped out. Does imperialism have the power to restore what has been lost in Iraq? It’s incapable. Imperialism’s devastating power lacks power to create and nourish life and nature. Iraq is one of the monuments of destruction imperialism has constructed in many parts of the world.
Farooque Chowdhury is a Dhaka-based freelancer.
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