Friday, October 27, 2006

How we know the war lobby lied over WMD

Stephen Pollard and Melanie Phillips, in common with other supporters of the Iraq war, would like us to believe that Bush and Blair honestly believed Iraq possessed WMD.
There's only one word which can be said in response to their claim. (Here's a clue: it rhymes with 'Rollocks'.)
Although we'll never find a signed memo from either Bush or Blair saying "Of course I know Iraq doesn't have WMD, but we've got to invent something," there is neverthless incontrovertible evidence that both men were lying. Namely, that having read the various dossiers and intelligence reports, they took our countries to war. Here's my 2004 piece from The Australian.

THE AUSTRALIAN:
We know the war lobby lied
5th February 2004

It really is very simple.‘Blame the spooks’ is now the official line of those who took us to war. Our political leaders didn’t wish to attack Iraq, but faced with such alarming intelligence reports of the threat Saddam posed, they had no other option. There is however one important and much overlooked point that gives the lie to this all-too convenient interpretation of events. The strongest and most irrefutable evidence that the coalition leaders did not believe the information contained in the hastily cobbled together ‘dossiers’, is the very fact that having read them, they then went to war.

Let’s remind ourselves of some of the information the intelligence reports contained. They included claims that the Iraqi military was ‘able to deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes of an order’ and that Saddam’s WMD programme was ‘active, detailed and running’. Imagine for a moment you are either George Bush, Tony Blair or John Howard reading these reports. Why on earth would you then do the one thing which would provoke Iraq to use its deadly weapons ? Had the Coalition really believed Iraq could ‘deliver chemical and biological weapons using an extensive range of artillery shells, free fall bombs, sprayers and ballistic missiles’ as the British dossier of September 24th 2002 claimed, then we would have reasonably expected that at the first sign of attack on his country Saddam would have ordered some pretty serious delivering. The coalition could, if the dossier claims were true, have expected to incur losses in the thousands with many more seriously injured. Are we expected to believe that our political leaders, would have countenanced such casualties and the political fall-out which would follow ?

The war party’s argument, put around in the first weeks of hostilities, that the most demonised dictator of modern times had not used his WMD for fear of opprobrium is patently absurd, though not quite as absurd as the one that the one that he may have destroyed them just before the invasion. If Saddam wasn’t going to use his WMD when attacked, then when on earth would he have used them ? History teaches us that countries attack others only when they are convinced of their opponent’s relative weakness. This is why Mussolini bombed Abyssinia and Hitler marched into Poland. It is why Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, and why Belgrade was blitzed in 1999. Bush, Blair and Howard would now have us believe that for the first time in history, a set of countries went to war last year because of an enemy’s military strength.

For what the Coalition really thought of the Iraqi ‘threat’, we get a truer picture from Colin Powell’s speech, in Egypt in 2001, when he declared that. ‘He (Saddam) has not developed any significant capability with regard to WMD. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours’.Saddam was attacked not because Bush, Blair and Howard thought he had WMD, but because they were pretty damn sure that he didn’t.

The inescapable lesson of the last twelve months, for anyone who still doubted it, is that deterrence works. Iraq, militarily emaciated after years of weapons inspections and sanctions, got Shock and Awe. North Korea, meanwhile, with its self-declared uranium enrichment programme gets offers of ‘dialogue’ and promises of further aid. Pat Buchanan, veteran Cold War warrior and authentic voice of hard-core U.S. conservatism, recommends all countries wanting the respect of Uncle Sam ‘to get the bomb’. Kim Jong II listened to his advice and Pyongyang is spared the B52s. Saddam didn’t and his country lies in ruins.

Here’s to the global proliferation of WMD. Then and only then might we get some real and lasting peace.

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