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Blair Part II: the Unicycle of Evil and Poppy's Bomb
by Greg Palast
Weblog July 18, 2003

Do you see it? Right there, right under Tony Blair and George Bush: During their press conference Thursday, Fox News ran a continuous ribbon of text at the bottom of the screen. It said, "THEY ARE LYING TO YOU. FIRST, BRITAIN'S PRIME MINISTER, STANDING BEFORE THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS, WILL TELL A BIG FAT FIB AND THEN OUR PRESIDENT, STANDING WITH HIM AT THE WHITE HOUSE, WILL STUTTER, SPUTTER AND THEN LIE IN YOUR FACE."

Well OK, that's not the exact phrase that the Fox Network ran, but that's what the text runner meant. While Tony Blair thumped his chest and told congress, "We promised Iraq democratic government - we will deliver it," the ticker-tape at the bottom of the TV screen said that our appointed chieftain in Iraq, Paul Bremer III, had announced that there would be no elections in Iraq - not until next year, or later.

Then it was our President's turn. He used the phrase "free Iraq" about half a dozen times. We know Iraq is free because Mr. Bush explained, he has just appointed Iraq's "governing council." The puppet show, our president told us gleefully, "is now meeting regularly." What about -- dare I mention the word -- ELECTIONS? To ask during a presidential press conference about the possibility that Iraqis be allowed to vote is considered as appropriate as passing wind at a debutante ball. "Democracy," Mr. Bush wagged his finger, "will take time to create." Indeed, it's only right that free and fair elections in Iraq should wait until after free and fair elections in Florida. And THAT is not scheduled until after 2004.

Democracy, Bush and Blair admonish us, is not something we can rush into. Their point was illustrated this week when, in a little noticed announcement, Bush's man Bremer, who issues his dictates from Saddam's old office, cancelled all local elections. Bremer has decided that what Iraqis really needs now more than the chance to chose their government is an armed and unchallengeable strongman, himself.

At the press conference, the questions moved from democracy to Blair's and Bush's jointly written work of fiction: the tale of Saddam's buying up nuclear mud from the African nation of Niger. The story was, as the English say, "bollocks," but George Bush gamely insisted that, "I strongly BELIEVE [Saddam] was trying to reconstitute his nuclear program."

Mr. Bush used the term "believe" several times. It seems that as a child, our President was awestruck by the repetitive annunciation of faith to revive Tinkerbell ("We believe in fairies, Tink! We really BELIEVE!"). He is apparently unaware that the decision to go war is supposed to be based, not on beliefs, but on hard intelligence.

Blair visibly squirmed through Bush's twisting and ducking around the simple question of why Bush slithered this African hot-dirt fable into the State of the Union address.

Faced with having to unmuddle the President's inchoate response, Blair hiked up his eyebrows then fetched up this stunner: "People don't generally know in the 1980s that Iraq purchased 270 tons of uranium from Niger." Indeed, people don't know that, Tony, because your government and the US government did it's damned best to cover it up. In the 1980s, Saddam was OUR butcher in Baghdad, a buddy of Ronald Reagan and Bush Senior. During my investigations for BBC television, I discovered during the Reagan-Bush years, Saudi Arabians gave Saddam, with a wink and nod from the US and UK, $7 billion to build a nuclear weapon so he could incinerate his enemy, Iran. However, that was back before there was an 'Axis of Evil' and Iran was the Unicycle of Evil.

So that was today's news: no elections in Iraq, a confession about Poppy Bush's old bomb for Saddam, and photo ops of a boy and his lapdog.

If you listened carefully, our president salted his responses with some unintended truths. Standing next to Blair, George Bush concluded, "Freedom and self-government are hated and opposed by a radical and ruthless few." Yes, George - I can easily name two.

Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Subscribe to his writings for Britain's Observer and Guardian newspapers, and view his investigative reports for BBC Television's Newsnight, at www.Gregpalast.com

Published: July 18, 2003


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