The world press on the missing WMDs

Pravda: "If people are killed in a war which is unjustifiable under international law, the act is a war crime."

By Compiled by Laura McClure
Published June 3, 2003 8:39PM (EDT)

India, Prem Shankar Jha in Outlook India

Iran has now been accused of all the three deadly sins that Iraq was supposed to have committed: it is developing and has a variety of weapons of mass destruction; it is sheltering terrorists and is therefore a state sponsor of terrorism, and it has been for years a major violator of human rights ... Iran thus meets all the criteria laid out in the U.S.' new national security strategy to qualify for 'pre-emptive' attack and 'regime change'.

How good is the intelligence that is propelling these momentous decisions? As good as the intelligence on Iraq? If that is so, then American senators and congressmen had better start asking the administration some pretty hard questions. For the volumes of so-called intelligence that both Britain and the U.S. produced to justify the crime (in terms of international law) that they committed against Iraq turned out to be totally worthless. Three months of U.N. weapons inspections based upon this intelligence produced absolutely nothing...

But compare this to the absolute assurance with which Secretary of State Colin Powell told the U.N. Security Council before the people of the entire globe that Iraq had, at a conservative estimate, between 100 and 500 tons of chemical and biological weapons, enough to fill 16,000 rockets; 20 Al Hussein missiles capable of traveling 1,200 kms or more, and at least one drone (unmanned aircraft) capable of flying 500 miles non-stop...

It is possible for all intelligence to be wrong some of the time and for some intelligence to be wrong all the time. But it is not possible for all intelligence to be wrong all the time. The conclusion is therefore inescapable: throughout its last, tortured 10 months, it was the despised regime of Saddam Hussein that was telling the truth, and the two oldest, most responsible, peace-loving democracies of the world were lying...

The U.S. won the Iraq war easily. It may win a war against Iran almost as easily. But what it has lost is incomparably more important and more precious. This is the moral leadership of the world. To use a term coined last August by Zbigniew Brzezinski, former president Carter's secretary of state, America is perilously close to becoming a Global Gangster. We are all the losers from this, because as he also pointed out, "without a respected and legitimate law enforcer global security could be in serious jeopardy."

Russia, Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey in Pravda

Speaking in New York, the U.S. Defense Secretary declared that he was surprised the Iraqi armed forces did not use these weapons in battle, as he had predicted, but "It is also possible that they decided that they would destroy them prior to a conflict."

If this is the case, then there was no justification whatsoever for the illegal and murderous campaign unleashed by the Bush administration against Iraq. If this was the case, and everything indicates that it was, where was the justification for the wholesale slaughter of Iraq's civilians?...

If people are killed in a war which is unjustifiable under international law, the act is a war crime and those responsible are war criminals, meaning that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are murderers.

If Saddam Hussein's regime destroyed the WMD before the attack, they were complying with international law, meaning that Iraq was the victim of an illegal act of aggression. This being the case, reparations must be paid to the State of Iraq, indemnities must be paid to the families of the victims slaughtered by the vicious bombing campaign against civilian targets and those responsible should stand trial for the crimes they have committed...

If Iraq did not destroy the weaponry, where is it? This is not a question that will simply melt away, although the Bush administration must wish it were conveniently forgotten. It is a question which will be raised more and more, ever more pressingly and constantly, until the truth is found out.

The question is repeated for Messrs Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Powell to answer: Where are the weapons of mass destruction, the pretext upon which your administration attacked Iraq?

Saudi Arabia, Tariq A. Al-Maeena in the Arab News

In today's dynamic world, yesterday's news is fast becoming a fading memory, and yet can we not remember what it was that started this all? Wasn't it those notorious weapons of mad destruction that were on everybody's lips then, the reason to enter and destroy? Wasn't evidence tabled in front of the U.N. Security Council? Where did they go?

Polls today show most Americans aren't too concerned whether this evidence would ever be discovered. They have after all moved on to other items on their agenda. The soap opera that transfixed a nation during the months of March and April has run out of steam, perhaps to be replaced with other more intriguing serials. Iraq was and remains a distant dot on the map, and so long as it does not interfere with their daily lives, so be it.

And yet it was Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair who sold the war to a gullible public based on their evidence that Iraq had massive quantities of WMD, with the sole intention of carrying out an attack against the United States or its allies. Domestic threat levels escalating at intermittent intervals only helped increase the sense of fear.

And when France and a few others voiced concern over dubious and fabricated evidence presented before the world body, and in their judgment thought best to let the U.N. inspectors continue, they too were singled out as collaborators or the "enemy."

And so, after countless sorties and thousands of bombs, and thousands of lives, estimates that range anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 civilians and military personnel dead in Iraq, there still is no WMD ... Instead there is oil. Oil that the U.S. and the British quickly claimed as their own in their brazen resolution put forth at the U.N., allowing them to disperse of it as they saw fit "in the interest of rebuilding Iraq."

This is not a democracy here, but a disguised dictatorship, with spoils going to the victors. From blatantly ignoring calls for restraint by the U.N. to allowing the mess that is Iraq today to develop, the occupiers have indeed made most of us forget what it was all about...

Did the end justify the means? Or are the occupiers no better than the oppressors they replaced?

United Kingdom, Dan Plesch and Richard Norton-Taylor in the Guardian

Transcripts of a private conversation between Jack Straw and Colin Powell expressing serious doubts about the reliability of intelligence on Iraq's banned weapons program are being circulated in western government circles where there is a growing feeling that officials were deceived into supporting the Iraq war.

A document known as the "Waldorf transcripts" -- after the New York hotel where the U.S. secretary of state was staying before making a crucial speech to the U.N. Security Council earlier this year -- is described by an official of one NATO country as "extremely useful".

The description is used in a paper seen by the Guardian as part of an effort among NATO allies to "rein in some of the less acceptable policies of the Bush administration".

Mr. Straw yesterday denied he had had a private meeting with Mr. Powell on February 4, the eve of the Security Council meeting where Mr. Powell gave a dramatic presentation of intelligence material purporting to reveal hard evidence that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons...

Diplomatic sources remain adamant, as the Guardian reported on Saturday, that Mr. Straw did have a private conversation with Mr. Powell in which both men expressed their concerns about the quality of the intelligence they had been given and how it was being used to bolster their governments' case for war against Iraq...

On Saturday, the Foreign Office insisted "no such meeting" took place...

Tony Blair has promised to publish a new dossier on Iraq's past weapons of mass destruction program. But it is a prospect the intelligence services, already caught up in the political row over claims that Downing Street doctored their earlier evidence, do not relish.

British intelligence agencies cannot substantiate claims that Saddam Hussein possessed chemical and biological weapons when U.S. and U.K. forces invaded Iraq, senior Whitehall officials admitted yesterday...

Intelligence sources said it would take "weeks, if not two or three months" to come up with what they called a "credible" assessment.

British and American intelligence sources say they were expecting Iraqi forces to use chemical or biological weapons against U.K. and U.S. troops -- a tactic which, however horrendous, would, they say, at least have proved they had such weapons.

United Arab Emirates, editorial in the Gulf News

The American and British governments appear to have misled the world with their claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. This failure of truth will now give both governments a serious challenge when they ask the Arab world to trust them in their efforts to rebuild Iraq or to find peace in Israel. Why should the Arabs believe governments that treat the truth so lightly?

When the American led coalition invaded Iraq and toppled the government of Saddam Hussein, their declared purpose was to stop the production and use of weapons of mass destruction. U.S. President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair were both quite specific in their statements before the war, stating that their war was because Iraq had both the means to make weapons of mass destruction and a store of the weapons themselves...

It is certain that Iraq is a better place without Saddam's government, and there is a historic opportunity to make the country into a better place. However, it is all too likely that this opportunity will slip past, as the United States does not seem to have a coherent plan for taking the country forward. To do so requires the Iraqis to trust the Americans, and it appears that they have made up the evidence that took them into Iraq in the first place.

If America wants to be taken seriously as a force for good, it must work to the highest standards. Otherwise it will degrade itself to being a just military power and lose all claim to the moral high ground. This is happening now, and the United States has a brief opportunity to put it right. It does not look likely that the U.S. realizes that it is on trial in Iraq, and the Arab world is watching, with some hoping for it to succeed and others for it to fail. Honesty is an essential starting point for the Americans to win a wider trust from the Arabs, and a false war aim has been a disaster for that test.

Compiled by Laura McClure

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