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The first casualty of war is truth

The British Government has recently blocked the release of Cabinet minutes which would outline the decision to invade Iraq in 2003. The reason for the censorship? Well, according the Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, it would 'risk serious damage to Cabinet government' and 'far outweighs' any public benefit (of publication). The decision was greeted by MPs of all political shades by calls of 'shame' and 'disgraceful'. What is clear is that the Government is terrified at the prospect of Cabinet minutes seeing the light of day. What gems would be revealed there?

The decision to attack Iraq was highly controversial at the time, and remains so. We were taken to war on a lie - a lie that claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that they were 45 minutes away from attacking Britain. Governments lie, especially during times of war. After all, the first casualty in war is the truth.

Here's a quote I saw the other day:

'Of course the people don't want war… that is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country'.

Who said that? Tony Blair? George W Bush?

No, it was Hermann Goering, Adolf Hitler's Deputy Chief and Luftwaffe Commander, at the Nuremberg trials in 1946.

We must all demand to know the legal basis of a war in which tens of thousands died.

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  1. #1 Phillip Smith 26 Feb 09

    ’We must all demand to know the legal basis of a war in which tens of thousands died.’


    Are there any groups that are going to put pressure on the British Government to release the minutes?


  2. #2 ADH61 13 Mar 09

    I'm not sure if there are any campaigning groups but there's an excellent website called CAMPAIGN FOR PRESS AND BROADCASTING FREEDOM. It's well worth a look

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Alan Hughes a New Internationalist contributor

Alan Hughes was a graphic artist at New Internationalist. He retired in 2014. He is a life-long socialist and trade unionist and is currently involved in the Keep Our NHS Public Campaign. He is passionate about The Beatles and has supported Aston Villa FC for over 50 years. He lives in Oxford with his daughter.

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