[Marxism] Double Ws (Bush & Churchill, fittingly).

Chris Brady cdbrady at sbcglobal.net
Wed Feb 4 18:46:00 MST 2004

Bush Cites Churchill in Defending Iraq War

By Randall Mikkelsen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Casting himself and British Prime Minister Tony
Blair as the spiritual heirs of Winston Churchill, President Bush
defended their decision to go to war against Iraq, despite the
unraveling of U.S. and British claims relating to Iraq's banned weapons.

Bush called the Iraq war pivotal to his vision of a democratic
transformation in the Middle East and compared it with the challenges
Churchill faced in World War II and the early stages of the Cold War.

"In some ways, our current struggles or challenges are similar to those
Churchill knew," Bush said in a speech at a Library of Congress exhibit
honoring Britain's famous war-time prime minister.

"We are the heirs of the tradition of liberty, defenders of the freedom,
the conscience and the dignity of every person."
"I keep a stern looking bust of Sir Winston in the Oval Office, Bush
said. "He watches my every move."

[Winnie would more prob’ly be soused than stern, by what we now know.]

Full Reuters report:

How about a brief “situation” of Churchill, vis-à-vis Iraq?  Please read
the following, and wonder at Bush’s imperialist hero:

In 1917, following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the British
occupied Iraq and established a colonial government.  The Arab and
Kurdish people of Iraq resisted the British occupation.  By 1920
resistance had developed into a full-scale national revolt, which cost
the British dearly.  As the Iraqi resistance gained strength, the
British resorted to increasingly repressive measures, including the use
of poison gas.

Excerpt from Geoff Simons' book, IRAQ: FROM SUMER TO SADDAM. (London:
St. Martins Press, 1994), pages 179-181.  All quotes in the excerpt are
properly footnoted in the original book, with full references to British
archives and papers:

Winston Churchill, as colonial secretary, was sensitive to the cost of
policing the Empire; and was in consequence keen to exploit the
potential of modern technology. This strategy had particular relevance
to operations in Iraq.  On 19 February, 1920, before the start of the
Arab uprising, Churchill (then Secretary for War and Air) wrote to Sir
Hugh Trenchard, the pioneer of air warfare.  Would it be possible for
Trenchard to take control of Iraq? This would entail “the provision of
some kind of asphyxiating bombs calculated to cause disablement of some
kind but not death...for use in preliminary operations against turbulent

Churchill was in no doubt that gas could be profitably employed against
the Kurds and Iraqis (as well as against other peoples in the Empire):
“I do not understand this sqeamishness about the use of gas. I am
strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilised tribes.”

Henry Wilson shared Churchills enthusiasm for gas as an instrument of
colonial control but the British cabinet was reluctant to sanction the
use of a weapon that had caused such misery and revulsion in the First
World War. Churchill himself was keen to argue that gas, fired from
ground-based guns or dropped from aircraft, would cause “only discomfort
or illness, but not death” to dissident tribespeople; but his optimistic
view of the effects of gas were mistaken.  It was likely that the
suggested gas would permanently damage eyesight and “kill children and
sickly persons, more especially as the people against whom we intend to
use it have no medical knowledge with which to supply antidotes.”

 Churchill remained unimpressed by such considerations, arguing that the
use of gas, a “scientific expedient,” should not be prevented “by the
prejudices of those who do not think clearly”.  In the event, gas was
used against the Iraqi rebels with excellent moral effect “though gas
shells were not dropped from aircraft because of practical difficulties

Today in 1993 there are still Iraqis and Kurds who remember being bombed
and machine-gunned by the RAF in the 1920s.  A Kurd from the Korak
mountains commented, seventy years after the event: “They were bombing
here in the Kaniya Khoran...Sometimes they raided three times a day.”
Wing Commander Lewis, then of 30 Squadron (RAF), Iraq, recalls how quite
often “one would get a signal that a certain Kurdish village would have
to be bombed...”, the RAF pilots being ordered to bomb any Kurd who
looked hostile.  In the same vein, Squadron-Leader Kendal of 30 Squadron
recalls that if the tribespeople were “doing something they ought not be
doing then you shot them.”  Similarly, Wing-Commander Gale, also of 30
Squadron: “If the Kurds hadn't learned by our example to behave
themselves in a civilised way then we had to spank their bottoms.  This
was done by bombs and guns.”

Wing-Commander Arthur Harris (later Bomber Harris, head of wartime
Bomber Command) was happy to emphasise that “The Arab and Kurd now know
what real bombing means in casualties and damage. Within forty-five
minutes a full-size village can be practically wiped out and a third of
its inhabitants killed or injured.”  It was an easy matter to bomb and
machine-gun the tribespeople because they had no means of defence or
retalitation.  Iraq and Kurdistan were also useful laboratories for new
weapons; devices specifically developed by the Air Ministry for use
against tribal villages. The ministry drew up a list of possible
weapons, some of them the forerunners of napalm and air-to-ground
missiles:  Phosphorus bombs, war rockets, metal crowsfeet [to maim
livestock], man-killing shrapnel, liquid fire, delay-action bombs.  Many
of these weapons were first used in Kurdistan.

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