Wednesday, November 18, 2015

They Walk Among You... And By "They," We Mean War Criminals


Ever hear of Kim Howells? His dad was a Communist lorry driver and young Kim was a good Welsh union man and a Communist himself, before joining the Labour Party in 1982. Seven years later he was elected to the House of Commons and gradually distanced himself from his communist roots, finally suggesting in 1996 that the word "socialism" ought to be "humanely phased out" of anything to do with the Labour Party. Pleased as punch, Tony Blair gave him a series of junior ministerial positions starting the following year, until, in 2005, Blair made him Minister of State for the Middle East in the Foreign Office. In a post at CounterPunch yesterday, From Pol Pot to ISIS: the Blood Never Dried, John Pilger happened to mention Howells.

It is 23 years since a holocaust enveloped Iraq, immediately after the first Gulf War, when the US and Britain hijacked the United Nations Security Council and imposed punitive "sanctions" on the Iraqi population-- ironically, reinforcing the domestic authority of Saddam Hussein. It was like a medieval siege. Almost everything that sustained a modern state was, in the jargon, "blocked"-- from chlorine for making the water supply safe to school pencils, parts for X-ray machines, common painkillers and drugs to combat previously unknown cancers carried in the dust from the southern battlefields contaminated with Depleted Uranium. Just before Christmas 1999, the Department of Trade and Industry in London restricted the export of vaccines meant to protect Iraqi children against diphtheria and yellow fever. Kim Howells, parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Blair government, explained why. "The children’s vaccines," he said, "were capable of being used in weapons of mass destruction."
Pinger had nothing more to say about Howells in his essay. In fact, there were far worse villains than Howells sprinkled throughout-- Tony Blair himself, of course, and another Foreign Office minister responsible for Iraq under Blair, Peter Hain (lately Baron Hain), currently working as a propagandist embedded at The Guardian, striving hard on behalf of the establishment at character assassination of Jeremy Corbyn. But, in 2009, the former Communist Howells was knighted and is now known as the Right Honourable Kim Howells. Two years after that he was to receive an Honorary Doctorate but made some derogatory statements, publicly, about Libyan students studying in the U.K. being security risks. He eventually succumbed to widespread student pressure to withdraw from the ceremony. As far as I can find, that's the only "punishment" that particular little war criminal ever received.

Of course, we don't have to hunt up obscure British politicians to find criminals and crooks-- Hains was caught stealing £103,156 before he was made a Baron-- who escaped punishment. We have Cheney. We have Bush. Even the worst war criminal of all, Henry Kissinger, still walks among us. In fact, Pinger ends his essay with this paragraph:
More than 40 years ago, the Nixon-Kissinger bombing of Cambodia unleashed a torrent of suffering from which that country has never recovered. The same is true of the Blair-Bush crime in Iraq, and the Nato and "coalition" crimes in Libya and Syria. With impeccable timing, Henry Kissinger’s latest self-serving tome has been released with its satirical title, World Order. In one fawning review, Kissinger is described as a "key shaper of a world order that remained stable for a quarter of a century." Tell that to the people of Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Chile, East Timor and all the other victims of his "statecraft."  Only when "we" recognise the war criminals in our midst and stop denying ourselves the truth will the blood begin to dry.
That these politicians go unpunished for their monstrous crimes against humanity, is outright encouragement for deranged sociopaths like, for example, Ted Cruz. Bad for America. Bad for humanity. But for the world.

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