The Lies About The Chemical Weapons Used By The Syria Government
By Peter Hitchens
A huge international news story broke last week, but I doubt you will hear about it anywhere else. It seems very likely that the decision we, France and the USA made in April 2018 to bomb Syria was based on a mistake as big as the fictional weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2003.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the international body which examines alleged incidents of the use of poison gas, has just confirmed to me that a devastating leaked document from its Dutch HQ is genuine.
The document, written by one of the OPCW’s most experienced investigators, shows that it is highly unlikely that gas canisters found at the scene of an alleged poison gas attack in Douma, Syria were actually dropped from helicopters – as has been widely believed and claimed. The claim is crucial to the case for bombing Syria. A copy of the leaked document can be found on the Peter Hitchens blog. See:
Yet the OPCW’s official report on the event made no mention of any such doubts, which it surely should at least have referred to. What is going on at the OPCW? It is a valuable organisation, containing many fine people, with a noble purpose, but has it been placed under pressure, or even hijacked, by political forces which seek a justification for military intervention in Syria? Given that a decision between war or peace, affecting the whole world, could one day hang on its judgements, I think the whole world is entitled to an inquiry into what is happening behind its closed doors.
We are told we should relax about the fate of Britain because new ravens have hatched at the Tower of London. I am more worried by another very frightening omen last week. There were empty seats on the green benches of the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions. What is supposed to be the central ritual of our ancient, adversarial Parliament has now become so dull and pointless that quite a few MPs can no longer be bothered to turn up.
This is a clear sign that something is seriously wrong at the very heart of our constitution.
I still remember the thrill of the long-ago day in the 1980s when I watched my first PMQs from the Press Gallery. The previous day I had crawled through the thin seam of a coal mine for the first time, and I am still not sure which of the two experiences went deeper into my mind and memory. Those were the times before Parliament was televised, when PMQs were a twice-weekly 15-minute joust in which Neil Kinnock confronted Margaret Thatcher across the dispatch box. There was nothing phoney in their hostility, and nothing staged in the passions which were released once the combat got going. The two parties at that time were still truly divided, utterly separate tribes which spoke for the two halves of the country. I don’t exactly know what the division was, or where it started. I suspect a lot of it went back to the Norman Conquest and the deep and lasting divide between Norman and Saxon. Some of it went back to the Civil War, and to the General Strike, and to the Great Betrayal of 1931, when the Labour premier, Ramsay MacDonald, entered a ‘National Government’ whose actions made today’s alleged austerity look like a spending spree. Beyond that lay the Cold War, in which the Left still couldn’t quite bring itself to loathe the Soviet Union as much as it should have done.
THE great thing was, these were the divisions in the country, and they were faithfully reflected in our Parliament. Nobody felt voiceless and forgotten. The House of Commons worked as it should, as a safety valve and an upward transmission belt through which people’s real concerns reached the very top, and were addressed. After the Cold War ended, and Mrs Thatcher destroyed the great heavy industries that sustained the old working class, these historic hostilities faded away.
A new divide arose. It was mainly about mass immigration, law and order, morals and marriage, and the sexual revolution. It was also about the way in which so much of the country simply did not benefit from the glittering prosperity of London. Not even all of London benefited from it. Almost none of this was discussed in Parliament. Instead, the three big parties became so alike that it was often impossible to tell them apart without checking their labels.
They despised the concerns of the voiceless millions, and talked down to them, trying to tell them what they should think. And it was that new, unrecognised division which led to two earthquakes in politics. First, there was the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, who, for all his faults, grasped that millions simply are not sharing in the supposed recovery. That’s why they flocked to his meetings and why he did so well in 2017.
The other was the transformation of the European issue. Once it only bothered fringe people like me. But when millions began to see our EU membership as a symbol of everything they didn’t like about modern Britain, especially the open borders, it became the new demarcation line. In 2016, in the referendum result, we saw for a few days the ghostly shape of two new political parties form in the air.
The two new tribes were more or less evenly matched, genuinely different from each other. I think the easiest way to define them is that one was a ‘Mail’ party and the other a ‘Guardian’ party. The things that divide this country now are not nationalisation or even tax, but morals, law and justice, mass immigration, patriotism versus internationalism. They are vital, living issues and it is time they were debated and settled in the proper old British way. But if they are not, then I see nothing but trouble coming. I fear greatly that we are now on course for a second EU referendum. I do not want this, in fact I hate and fear the idea. But MPs and party leaders have refused to take responsibility for the future of the country, because they are afraid of their own voters. And so it seems more and more likely that a second poll is where it will end up. Often these days, I think the only sensible thing left to do is pray.
Yet another ambitious pseudo-patriotic Tory has made a fool of herself over the prosecutions of British soldiers who served in Northern Ireland. The latest Defence Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, who claims to have been named after a warship, and is far from reticent about her service connections, noisily pretended she could do something about this witch-hunt. And then went into reverse. Because she can’t. I shall keep saying this until it sinks in. The United Kingdom surrendered to the Provisional IRA, under heavy American pressure, in 1998, and the witch-hunt of British soldiers was part of the terms of that surrender. The Tory Party supported the nauseatingly-named ‘Good Friday Agreement’ at the time and still defends it. OK then – they should openly admit that this is what defeat looks like, and this is what the ‘Special Relationship’ amounts to.
I can’t say I actually like the BBC’s new drama about the near future ‘Years and Years’. It is crammed with the usual propaganda about everything from sex to Donald Trump. It even referred to Russian soldiers as the ‘Soviet Army’ a serious mistake in the script someone should have spotted and which results from a liberal mental blockage all round. But it is right about how dangerous our times and are, even if it uses Emma Thompson’s character to mock and belittle the fears of millions, it admits they exist.