PETER CADOGAN | 02.03.2002 23:48
We are going to war. The Prime Minister is going to Washington in April to see the President not to discuss the possibility of war, but how to wage it.
The decision to go to war has already been taken, presidentially, in both capitals. Mr Blair has chosen not to consult Parliament, his Party, the Cabinet, the EU and to ignore the media and public opinion. The country has yet to wake up to what has happened.
Currently we are the receiving end of a softening up process that began, appropriately, with a First Leader in THE TIMES of February 15th.
With a combination of military and covert methods now actively under discussion, the United States is preparing to destroy the regime of Saddam Hussein.
The US will go it alone if necessary. Mr Blair must be ready, in Europe, to go it alone too. He has been too slow in preparing British public opinion for the inevitable. He had better start closing the gap now.
Nothing could be more unlike style and substance of the Editor, Peter Stothard. Six days later he called a meeting of THE TIMES staff - and resigned. The report in the paper the next day, 22nd February, indicated that his successor was likely to be Robert Thomson, an Australian currently working for the FT in the US. He has since been appointed. The hand of the owner of THE TIMES, the Australian-American Mr Murdoch, is clearly writ large over the whole affair? Normally he does not interfere, but this time...?
Mr Berlusconi of Italy is the only other EU leader to climb aboard HMS Blair-Bush, unless we include the hapless Shadow Foreign Secretary who, on TV, has pledged his support for Mr Blair.
The war is scheduled to take place between May and October, to involve up to 200,000 US troops and Special Forces, with nuclear weapons in the front line - and to last six weeks. Clearly the battle of Masir-i-Sharif, that changed the nature of modern war, with US Space Command up-front (using its satellite-targetting system with B52s) is the new model. Iraqi casualties stand to be enormous, murder on a mass scale.
For what? But to satisfy absurd imperial delusions in the military-industrial complex of the US and an unthinking jingoism unparalleled in the history of the world? Happily there is another America currently finding its voice.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE UN-STOPPABLE
Theoretically there is another way... Saddam Hussein could accept the demand for the return of Inspectors that will be the substance of the US ultimatum in May. The US would then be massively undone! Doubtless they would then find some other excuse with which to proceed to war. But Hussein has already poured scorn on acceptance.
Then, under heavy international pressure, the US might have a change of heart? But the evidence is much to the contrary. The American people are under a massive propaganda barrage over the virtue of going it alone. The way in which the horror of September 11th is being squeezed for military-political purposes is a monumental disgrace.
The all-powerful single superpower myth has grabbed Middle America, Vietnam dismissed. After a series of successful wars - the Gulf, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan - nothing is beyond the might of the USA. Millions believe it.
We need to speculate intelligently (and to update that speculation daily) in order to prepare ourselves, as best we may, for what is to come.
There will be unimaginable chaos in the Middle East and throughout the vast Muslim world. Will specialists give us what clues they can? Present signs are that since Russia has been bought by the US , the IMF in particular, Putin will stay in the sidelines, but we shall see. China will be up in arms, but hardly more than metaphorically? With 20 million unemployed to contend with, China has plenty on its plate.
Given growing internal resistance in the US and worldwide objections, the other main part of the crunch is liable to be in this country and the EU.
The EU is already split. As of today it is Britain and Italy against the other thirteen? What we face is not another protest movement as since 1956 and Suez. (resolved by US action against Anglo-French would-be imperial renaissance!). A whole tranche of PMs, Presidents and Ministers will be up-in- arms with massive backing from their media, NGOs and public opinion.
Europe will be obliged to redefine itself, a silver lining to a very dark cloud.
And Britain? And Blair? Will he be able to retain public confidence? And the confidence of his own Party and of the Commons and Lords? This has happened twice before. Chamberlain went in 1940 and Eden went in 1956. (Mrs Thatcher went in 1990, but not over defence matters.) All three were rejected by their own parties. The precedents are unmistakeable.
If Mr Blair adheres to his present course, he will have to go.
2nd February 2002