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Tuesday 3 June 2003

Iraq - when the dust settles [lurks]

Before I head off to Ye Old Dickens to get blotto with the EED London posse, I thought I'd revisit a subject much blogged and hotly debated on this very web site; Iraq. Donald Rumsfeld has dropped the bombshell that no WMDs may ever be found in Iraq. I'm afraid that this is, for me, a stretch to far. Up until this point I found the lack of any discovery/announcement as being quite odd but had assumed in due course something would turn up. It hasn't.
Now, historically I must say I was pro-war purely to remove Saddam Hussain. I was saying this when the government was giving it large on the WMD rhetoric and failing to persuade a large proportion, verging on a majority, of the nation of the need to go to war. So they changed tack into what a bad man Saddam is and how this is the right thing to do on a purely humanitarian and world-peace level. Which is fair enough but it wasn't the proviso for going to war originally.
So now all that evidence which Colin Powell presented to the security council, absolutely none of that has turned into any hard proof even after the regime has been ousted and the country occupied by 'coalition' forces? That raises some extremely important questions of our government, even for the pro-war lobby folks who ultimately, as I do, feel that ousting of Saddam was the right thing to do.
One of only two scenarios can be the case here;
Scenario one: The supposedly most capable of experienced intelligence agencies of the world (the CIA, MI6 and conventional military intelligence units) were completely wrong and dramatically overstated the real WMD threat. They failed to pinpoint that they were being told what they 'wanted to hear' from the defecting Iraqi scientists and that huge quantities of pre-existing chemical and biological weapons were destroyed and they failed to identify this fact.
Scenario two: We were being lied to. The intelligence agencies had full knowledge the real threat of Iraq but our government communicated an entirely difference and largely fictitious story on the threat from Iraq in order to justify a war with Iraq. The rest of world was right, there was no real threat from Iraq.
Now it strikes me that scenario one is frankly careless to the extreme. Heads must roll, changes must be made. Woe that it should come to the fact that we cannot adequately spy on a backwards middle eastern dictatorship when we have such interests in the area.
Ultimately, however, I can forgive the government for that.
That brings me two scenario two. Now there's some disturbing evidence that Downing Street had already staffed up to a point to generate justification content on Iraq. Remember the plagiarized and 'spinned' US student report published as an official UK dossier? But this is a different ball game. If the alleged threat, more importantly, if there *was* no intelligence evidence which we were repeatedly told existed and did in fact not exist, that's all together different.
It doesn't matter that Saddam was ousted. It doesn't matter that a good result was obtained. If scenario two is the case, this democratic nation was lied to and our forces sent into a war on false pretences. If this is proven to be true, and of course the issue is how you go about doing so with the built-in mechanisms of state-protected secrecy, there can be no other sentences other than the immediate sacking of the current government.
One thing is clear to me, there is no 'good' scenario. Either we have completely incompetent intelligence agencies that have dropped the ball yet again post 11/9 or we have a morally bankrupt government that is making the highest level decisions it is possible to take in spite of what it means to be a democracy.
I'm just surprised it's as quiet as it is...


  1. I just heard that Blair is 'still confident' that banned weapons will be found in Iraq. Hmm. You've got to wonder about the temptation to plant some, the yanks have already proven they've zero morals in terms of their end goal. That shameful publicity stunt concerning Pvt Jessica Lynch I found sickening to the core.

  2. They have found WMD - (from :
    Julian Borger in WashingtonWednesday May 28, 2003The Guardian
    The good news for the Pentagon yesterday was that its investigators had finally unearthed evidence of weapons of mass destruction, including 100 vials of anthrax and other dangerous bacteria.The bad news was that the stash was found, not in Iraq, but fewer than 50 miles from Washington, near Fort Detrick in the Maryland countryside. (see for more info.)

  3. When Robin Cook resigned he stated that he hadn't been convinced there was any WMD, and he was a cabinet minister! If he hadn't been shown enough to convince him then it was quite obvious there was nothing there.
    So yes, they lied and now you have to ask yourself why. Is the fact that Saddam was a bad man reason enough to deploy 250000 men, 5 carrier groups, spend over 100 billion dollars etc? Clearly no.
    So given that there was no WMD threat and that the UK/US governments plainly didn't really give a shite about his record (beyond using it to convince the masses) why did they *really* go in? And does that matter Lurks? Before the war you didn't seem to care, as long as Saddam was gotten rid of, but I think the real reasons are very important indeed.
    Understanding the real motives behind all this is vastly more important to the world than whether or not Iraq is free.

  4. 'Is the fact that Saddam was a bad man reason enough to deploy 250000 men'
    Taken like that, the answer is a resounding yes. On the level of atrocities against his own people, against his neighbours, and the regime he was running, Saddam Hussein was no different from Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin.. the list goes on.
    So, removal of a 'bad man' - yes, it's a good enough reason.
    That said, I await the next installment of this cacaphony of governmental rubbish with eager anticipation..

  5. I'm sorry that's bollocks, Saddam is not even in the same league as any of those you've just mentioned.
    When this subject comes up, everyone points straight to 'but he gassed his own people!!!'. This regards the 1998 incident where around 4,000 people allegedly died when a town was bombed with a gas-based weapon. Of course, most ignore or don't realise that the CIA classed the attack as Iranian at the time... and even continued this stance throughout the gulf war until sometime in the early 1990s... And that a large proportion of the bodies were alledgedly in military uniform.
    While Saddam Hussein was certainly a 'bad man' and certainly responsible for the deaths of many, there's no way he can ever be compared to last centuries worst leaders when we can't even conclusively prove he's killed more civilians than the odd person or small group.

  6. Was it worth deploying our armed forces to get rid of Saddam Hussain? You fucking bet it was! A more poignant question may be, was it worth sending the humans beings in our armed forces off to die in order to increase the quality of life of Iraqis who don't, in retrospect, appear terribly grateful?
    But that's not why we did it, we did it because of security issues. The fact that Saddam may threaten us or his neighbors as he has done in the past. From the beginning I said that I don't really buy that he is a credible threat, the only one I considered valid was the moral one. The subject of this blog was that the moral case was not that which was used to justify the war.
    The government had bet that the fear of an external threat would motivate the public, not the humanitarian issues at hand. On that front they got it so astoundingly wrong that you've got to wonder how on earth these people got into power in the first place. Indeed, I think I can answe that - Blair got in by promising hope where the Torys only ever said 'The other guy is worse'. How soon those in power forget their roots eh?
    And, sigh, with regards to Afty's comments. What can you say to that. The mass graves are all made up, Halabja was a valid military target (lol) or the Iranians did it. Christ, I'm lost for words. What is your argument here, that they never happened (lol) or he didn't personally kill all these people, so he's not such a bad guy because his underlings did it? Either way, I think it's time to change your dealer.
    Let me tell you this, because clearly you have no idea, Saddam Hussain has *personally* killed more people than Hitler. How in fuck is that relevant? The man can be adequately compared to various dictators on a number of levels, flagrant disregard for his own people, the desire to build his personal wealth and that of his closest allies and the systematic murdering of political opponents and ethnic groups other than his own.
    Of course, if you and your lot had your way, he's still be there doing it.

  7. I may be way off track here but time will tell. Anyway, I'll throw this thought in & see what surfaces:
    With most of the Arab world apparently looking to America, erm, less than favourably shall we say the big friend of the US in the region is still the Saudi royal family. Note I said the Royal family, the rest of the country hates the US as much as the others from what I gather. Now, what better move to secure oil interests & ensure a base in the region than to get a foothold in Iraq? WMDs, Sadam and maybee even immediate oil interests may all be irrelevant. The whole exersise may be part of a longer term US strategy. I'm sure C&C fans may agree :)

  8. Well, yes of course. What gets me is this kind of simplistic culture that exists today where many people seems to believe that things happen for a reason and that there is only one reason for anything happening. I wish more people would understand that things are more likely to happen the more reasons there are for doing it.

  9. Oi, Lurks.
    Told ya so.
    BTwm when you say 'personally killed more people than Hitler' I presume you mean that literally, rather than 'been responsible for the deaths of more people than Hitler' since that probably wouldn't be true - I have a sneaky suspicion that there aren't actually enough people in total in Iraq for him to manage that.
    Anyway, in general I agree with what you say - it WAS worth removing him, just because he was a dangerous person to have about, and the problem isn't that we did it but the way it was justified.
    I'm still not convinced that your two options are the only two - it is still just about possible that one of another few options remain :
    3. There are still some WMD to be found, they are just well hidden4. The WMD were destroyed by the Iraqis first just to make sure they didn't get caught with them5. The WMD were transported out of the country before the attacks started, and Iran or whoever is currently sitting on them.
    But like yours, these are all speculation.

  10. Well if you or anyone else 'told me so' it was certainly under no basis in fact beyond what they had decided to believe through political ends.
    The two scenarios (not options) are indeed not the only ones. Ordinarily I'd sing about the other possible scenarios but quite frankly I don't really buy the fact that the coalition forces have more important things to do. They were reporting on suspicious barrels right in the middle of the action.
    Unfortunately our democrasy has a collectively short memory. The fact is, victory was delivered and we've largely forgotten about it in much the same way as Afghanistan. So I think Blair will survive this in the short term, however I think that he's done a very large amount of damage to the reputation of the government. The next general election might not be such a whitewash, even if the Torys continue to be a joke.

  11. Political ends ?My arse.I said basically what you said ages ago - that whilst the whole idea of bombing the living shit out of Saddam was appealing, all the WoMD was looking a bit sus. I can't remember exactly what you said but I'm pretty sure it could be summarised as 'fuck right off' :-)
    As for 'more important things', well trying not to get killed is probably one. Although I still think its more likely that we've been duped by the government.
    And yes, I entirely agree about the rest - I suspect the creepy one will stay in, and I don't doubt the Tory's will continue to be a joke.
    Still, after another couple of labour terms we can probably have a massive swing back to the right and balance it all out again :-(

  12. With all due respect but you were one of the most rabbid anti-Western ravers that I had encountered for a long time (UK Gamer as I recall) and large tracts of what you were saying were blatantly untrue. So I'm not exactly going to sit back and take it when you pipe up with 'I told you so' when the foundation for you saying 'I told you so' was seemingly little more than a distrust and hatred of all things American. How can you have said the same thing I was saying when at the time there was absolutely no indication that weapons wouldn't be found, or was Blix wasting his time as well - he should have just asked you? :)
    After all, one could always apply the same same ends justifying the means argument to your side of the camp as well!
    Obviously we'll just have to agree to disagree on that front. I'm glad we have rather more common ground on the current state of affairs.