Once again, the corporate media has been interviewing Tony Blair as if he is some respected elder statesman rather than the war criminal who left a million innocent dead in Iraq (when do we hear about them?), which tells us all, loud and clear, exactly how its journalists view this man who is reviled throughout the world for his mendacity and militaristic madness. But you wouldn’t know this if you watch Channel 4 News, ITN, BBC or Sky news. For them, despite all of the evidence to the contrary, Blair is to be held up for us as a serious source of reasoned opinion; a decent man; a sincere man; one who has made mistakes, sure, but who is still to be treated with respect.
How much greater could the disconnect between the corporate state’s media and civil society actually be? These so-called journalists have the same access to all the information the independent media has on Blair but somehow that immovable principle which states that no member of the British government can ever have anything but noble motivations in foreign policy remains unshakeable.
Meanwhile: a few months ago a London barman attempts a citizen’s arrest on Blair. One of several bids made over the last few years which do indeed have the law on their side but which are quashed by the man’s corrupt protectors rendering them highly symbolic acts – a little blast of Truth piercing the thin façade of propriety shielding Blair which the mainstream media works so diligently to keep in place.
There is no difference here between the mainstream media (MSM) and the politicians they should be holding to account. Ed Miliband. last year, on BBC News 24 was doing his ‘man of the people’ bit (snigger) in front of a crowd in Brighton when one young man piped up: ‘Do you agree that Tony Blair is a war criminal?’ Ed, sinuses clogging with suppressed discomfort, quickly glossed over the ‘mistakes’ of Iraq. It was a ‘miscalculation’, a ‘blunder’, but it certainly was not a deliberate act of illegal war perpetrated for cynical geopolitical gains, which is why you will never see Ed asked that same question by a corporate journalist but you will see Tony Blair on Channel 4 News being asked his opinion on the Middle East as though he were some paragon of trusted insight. This preposterous and offensive stance is exposed by Media Lens in their compelling alert, ‘The Return of the King, Tony Blair and the Magically Disappearing Blood’: ‘a vital component of the ‘titanium shell’ protecting Blair is that ‘mainstream’ journalists refrain from describing the actions of the former PM and his co-conspirators as war crimes.’ They observe that despite the mountain of commentary on the Iraq War, ‘glaring by its omission is any call for Blair and his accomplices to stand trial in The Hague and face charges of war crimes.’
The stark refusal of corporate journalists to even countenance reflecting the widely-held opinion that Blair is a war criminal not only reveals their natural alignment with the power elite but points to the consequence of that toxic relationship – their own role in allowing the invasion to take place by failing to confront the architects of the war during its build-up, instead becoming an echo-chamber for government lies. This patent lack of sincere self-examination on the part of journalists post Iraq has resulted in a Twilight Zone news-scape cleansed of their own culpability. As John Pilger has observed, ‘recognition that the respectable, liberal, Blair-fawning media were a vital accessory to such an epic crime is omitted and remains a singular test of intellectual and moral honesty in Britain’.
It might surprise you to know, because it has never been reported by the corporate media, that a tribunal in Malaysia found Blair (and Bush) guilty of ‘crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and genocide as a result of their roles in the Iraq War’ while the World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI), held in Istanbul in 2005, and which ‘culminated in a worldwide series of hearings carried on between 2003-2005 on various aspects of the Iraq War’ released a Declaration of Conscience which states:
‘The invasion and occupation of Iraq was and is illegal. The reasons given by the US and UK governments for the invasion and occupation of Iraq in March 2003 have proven to be false. Much evidence supports the conclusion that a major motive for the war was to control and dominate the Middle East and its vast reserves of oil as a part of the US drive for global hegemony… In pursuit of their agenda of empire, the Bush and Blair governments blatantly ignored the massive opposition to the war expressed by millions of people around the world. They embarked upon one of the most unjust, immoral, and cowardly wars in history.’
Despite the protection of the corporate media both men have since become international pariahs, unable to travel freely without fear of arrest or protest. In 2011 Bush was forced to cancel a visit to Switzerland under threat of legal action called for by groups including Amnesty International and the Centre for Constitutional Rights. A memo from Amnesty to Swiss authorities reads:
‘Anywhere in the world that he travels, President Bush could face investigation and potential prosecution for his responsibility for torture and other crimes in international law, particularly in any of the 147 countries that are party to the UN Convention against Torture…As the US authorities have, so far, failed to bring President Bush to justice, the international community must step in.’
The UK authorities are just as unlikely, of course, to bring Blair to justice. There would be a chance, at least, if the corporate media was fit for purpose and was willing even to create room for a debate on the subject but, as we have seen, that is never going to happen. Why then, has the ‘international community’ not stepped in as Amnesty International clearly wants?
Richard Falk, professor of international law at Princeton and United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, addresses the question in an appraisal of the Malaysian tribunal and the World Tribunal on Iraq – his piece also examines other ‘juridical events’ convened around the world as a response to gross injustices such as the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, South African Session (November 5-7 2011), which considered apartheid allegations against Israel, and the Permanent Peoples Tribunal (PPT) established in Rome in 1976 which has examined, among other issues, ‘American intervention in Central America, Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, human rights in the Philippines’ Marcos dictatorship, the dispossession of Indian communities in Brazil’s Amazonia state, and the denial of the right of self-determination to the Puerto Rican people’.
In asking why these tribunals were deemed necessary Falk echoes the PPT in its stated belief that ‘there was an urgent need to fill the institutional gap in the administration of justice worldwide that resulted from geopolitical manipulation and resulting formal legal regimes of double standards’. Such actions are required, he continues, ‘when governmental procedures…are so inhibited by geopolitics that they fail to address severe violations of international law’, concluding that the Malaysian tribunal, ‘offers a devastating critique of the persisting failures of international criminal law mechanisms of accountability to administer justice justly, that is, without the filters of impunity provided by existing hierarchies of hard power.’
Clearly, geopolitical exigencies take precedence over impartial commitment to justice when it comes to the likes of Blair and Bush. Those ‘filters of impunity’ are always in operation ensuring these men will never be put on trial by a system severely contorted by western elite interests and while the corporate journalists who might question this degrading state of affairs refuse to do so because they are so embedded in that same corrupted system.
It is no surprise, then, to anyone involved in independent media why their corporate counterparts protect a man like Blair, and it is no surprise that the scope of the discourse in the msm is so pitifully restricted that it excludes any genuinely radical and dissident voices which might expose him. It is no surprise either that genuine debate is replaced with an arena of contrived argument featuring only those who accept the same fundamental ‘we are the good guys’ premise. Chris Hedges, in his piece, The Creed of Objectivity Killed the News’ quotes the late, great US columnist Molly Ivins on this:
“it’s of no help to either the readers or the truth to quote one side saying, ‘Cat,’ and the other side saying ‘Dog,’ while the truth is there’s an elephant crashing around out there in the bushes…. the press’s most serious failures are not its sins of commission, but its sins of omission—the stories we miss, the stories we don’t see, the stories that don’t hold press conferences, the stories that don’t come from ‘reliable sources.’ ”
The ‘objectivity’ of which the msm is so proud creates, observes Hedges, ‘the formula of quoting Establishment specialists or experts within the narrow confines of the power elite who debate policy nuance like medieval theologians. As long as one viewpoint is balanced by another, usually no more than what Sigmund Freud would term “the narcissism of minor difference,” the job of a reporter is deemed complete. But this is more often a way to obscure rather than expose truth.’
Inevitably then, we will never see this video of former NATO chief General Wesley Clarke, revealing something interesting about US intentions towards Syria, discussed by the MSM: Now, Clarke cannot easily be dismissed as some Chomksy acolyte (a lazy accusation often thrown at critics of the MSM) but no matter, his words are beyond the bounds of acceptable debate and British citizens will never hear them – unless they access independent news sources.
More corroboration of the state of play comes from one Dr. Marcus Papadopulous, in his article, George Orwell and Modern Media who recounts: ‘during lunch with a foreign diplomat in London, I was told how British mainstream journalists simply “follow the line” of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office when it comes to international affairs’.
Now we may be getting an inkling of how narrow the ‘framework of analysis’ actually is when we watch corporate news channels and how this carefully preserved system allows a criminal like Blair to insult all right thinking people by parading himself as a morally sound commentator on events regarding the very country in which he left a river of innocent blood.
Those of us who watched with horror as the mainstream media swallowed every state lie fed to them on Iraq have been tearing our hair out time after time since as we have witnessed their exact same unwillingness to confront lying politicians on their blatant dismissal of the United Nations Charter, this being something our highly paid corporate journalists appear to think is some kind of murky or fluid legislation so difficult to pin down that it is nigh on impossible to determine what it actually says. In reality, of course, it is crystal clear:
UN General Resolution 2625 states:
“No state or group of states has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other state. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the state or against the political, economic and cultural elements are in violation of international law”
Any journo worth his or her salt can read this, understand it, and present its unequivocal meaning to whichever government spokesperson has slithered into view pretending it is up to them to decide when to attack a sovereign nation:
‘There is no provision of international law…that allows ad hoc coalitions of countries to determine for themselves who they believe the guilty parties to be, and to punish them by acts of war against the territory of a sovereign state. The United Nations Charter allows unilateral military action only where a country is under attack or imminent threat of attack.’
Just once – once! – I would like to hear a single mainstream journalist refer to the explicit and categorical UN Charter without waiting to be TOLD what it means by those THEY are supposed to be holding to account! Is that too much to ask of a trained journalist? What does journalism mean at all if these people are unwilling to honestly read a document of such global import and present its decisive declaration to whichever minister is in their interview chair? If anything exposes the complete conditioning corporate journalists absorb in their climb to the ‘pinnacle’ of a national news programme it is this stupid obedience to the unspoken lore of ‘we are the good guys’.
By any rational standard Tony Blair is a war criminal who, along with the other architects of the Iraq bloodshed, will one day stand in the dock at The Hague and be handed down the long sentence he so richly deserves. That we have to endure his preening presence on our mainstream news channels in the meantime is an insult to the mountain of innocent dead he is responsible for in Iraq and an indictment of the editors and journalists who helped him do it and who are still protecting him. Shame on them all.