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Did Bush and Blair Lie About WMD?

To put the controversy surrounding one of the main causes of the Second Gulf War into perspective, we have to go back some 60 years: Over two hundred U.S. Rangers were among the 135,000 Allied troops that stormed the coast of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Their mission was to climb the cliffs of the Pointe du Hoc and destroy a battery of heavy artillery that threatened both the Omaha and the Utah landing beaches, not to mention Dwight Eisenhower's invasion fleet. After scaling the 30-meter-high cliffs under a withering fire, they emerged, bloodied, on the top only to be in for a terrible surprise; no cannons were present. Not expecting the invasion, the Germans had dismantled them and removed them to the rear.

The main purpose of this website is not to be a pro-Bush website or an anti-Bush website, or even a pro-American or an anti-American website. It is to be a pro-common sense website. Or, if you insist on putting America's 43rd president in the equation, it's (among other things) a "I'm-sorry-but-I-hardly-think-that-the-evidence-warrants-that-Dubya-is-the-horrible-man-and-the-terrible-danger-that-he-is-said-to-be" website. In other words, it is to show, based on solid evidence, that the anti-American feelings present all over the world would be just as present no matter who is in the White House, no matter what Washington's policies are, and no matter what America does or doesn't do. And this is a constant case of double standards that will never go away, no matter what happens.

In the case of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction (WMD), to accuse George W. Bush and Tony Blair of "lying" because no such arms were found in Iraq is akin to saying that Ike and Monty (or Churchill and Roosevelt) lied when they had their staffs include Pointe du Hoc in their battle plans for D-Day.

One French writer, who usually displays more intelligence, has said that, in fairness to Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, he made the new year's wish that "the American people, which forgave neither Clinton for lying about one case of fellatio nor Richard Nixon for having pushed on a tape recorder button, will sanction next November a Bush who lied on the theme of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."

First of all, is it not presumptious both to speak of "the American people" (when both the 37th and the 42nd president were defended in the newspapers and on the airwaves by untold numbers of citizens thinking, rightly or wrongly, that these cases amounted basically, if not entirely, to being politically-motivated) and to assume that said people "did not forgive" (when the effort to impeach Clinton failed and when Nixon has seen his popularity rise since his 1974 resignation)?

But more importantly, whatever you think of these men and the circumstances that brought them down or threatened to do so, you cannot deny that they did indeed lie and then try to cover up said lie. If you say that one or the other event hardly warrented such punishment and, indeed, should never have been brought up, believe me, I do not disagree with you. Trust me on that. But certainly, an open and discerning mind must be able to make a difference between a statement about oneself deliberately made and known to be false (however important or unimportant, however relevant or irrelevant to the political process, and/or however appropriate or not to what is supposed to be known about a public man's personal life) and a strong belief held about another leader, country, or system, one that is authoritarian, has been regularly deceptive in the past, and has an extremely bloody track record. The evidence seems to be pretty strong for both Bush and Blair to have been stumped, along with their governments, by the fact that no WMDs have turned up so far.

If deliberate falsehoods were really the case here, one must admit that the only option available to Bush and Blair to support the "lie" (and avoid the scandal they must have known would otherwise come) would have been to have US and British troops install the WMDs themselves stealthily and deliberately. (In fact, how would you like to bet that that is exactly what some of the two governments' cynical foes would have charged, had such arms been discovered?) The paradoxical fact that none were found, therefore, is pretty strong evidence, conversely, that Bush and Blair did not lie.

It has been at least 2,500 years since Greek writers discovered that a negative cannot be proved. Therefore, whereas it might have been theoretically possible (before the war was launched) to prove that Saddam did have WMD, it would never have been possible to prove conclusively that he did not have them. And no, this does not mean a free ticket for Washington to intervene whenever it wants and do whatever it wants. As the next part of this piece demonstrates (outakes from an article from the anti-war New York Times), the intervention in Iraq was made on the basis of hard evidence, and that evidence pointed to the fact that Saddam was hiding something and that (to say the least) he was not a man to be trusted.

(As it happens, the 5,000 dead Kurds from the 1988 chemical attack on a Kurdish village did prove, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Saddam Hussein has both possessed and been willing to use WMD. As did the comments of some of his scientists about the true intentions of his late 1970s nuclear reactor, built by a European country whose name I cannot recall just now, but it was built in part during the time this man was that nation's prime minister.)

In any case, the charge of lying is a clearly a double standard, because no one — no Frenchman, no Russian, no German — will pursue charges of lying (or accusations concerning deliberate omissions) against Jacques Chirac, Vladimir Putin, and Gerhard Schröder, at least not — we should add "definitely not" — when the lying is done in the area of foreign affairs, and that, at the expense of the big bad American wolf.

"Everybody thought Saddam had bombs"

Kenneth M Pollack put it most succinctly as early as June 2003. Although the director of research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution does not come out all in favor of the Bush administration in his article — far from it — he explains what "the most likely scenario" is (besides the distressing one the WMD may have been moved across the borders). Because chamical and biological munitions "are dangerous to store and handle and they deteriorate quickly … Iraq may have decided to keep only a chemical and biological warfare production capability rather than large stocks of the munition."

More importantly:

the failure so far to find weapons of mass destruction in no way invalidates the prewar intelligence data — based on evidence that largely predates the Bush administration — indicating that Iraq had the clandestine capability to build them. It was this evidence, along with reports showing the clear failure of United Nations efforts to impede Iraq's progress, that led the Clinton administration to declare a policy of "regime change" for Iraq in 1998.

Mentioning the discovery of two tractor-trailers in April and May that were described as mobile germ-warfare labs, the author of The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq describes how numerous episodes of concealment

explain why many former Clinton administration officials, including myself [Pollack was a staff member of the National Security Council in the 1990s] agreed with the Bush administration that a war would probably be necessary to prevent Iraq from acquiring nuclear and other weapons. We may have not agreed with the Bush team's timing and tactics, but none of us doubted the fundamental intelligence basis of its concerns about the Iraqi threat.


it wasn't just the United States that was concerned with Iraq's efforts. By 2002, British, Israeli and German intelligence services had also concluded that Iraq was probably far enough along in its nuclear weapons program that it would be able to put together one or more bombs at some point in the second half of this decade. The Germans were actually the most fearful of all — in 2001 they leaked their estimate that Iraq might be able to develop its first workable nuclear device in 2004.

At no point before the war did the French, the Russians or the Chinese say they doubted that Baghdad was maintaining a clandestine weapons capability. All that these countries ever disagreed with the United States on was what to do about it.

Saddam Himself Believed He Had WMD

In fact, Saddam Hussein himself believed he had WMD. As his former protocol chief testifies in the book In the Shadow of Saddam,

intoxication reigned supreme in Saddam's administration and government. … To preserve their lives, numerous scientists assured the president that his army had at its disposal biological and chemical weapons hidden so well that no one would be able to uncover them. Saddam was extremely surprised when the United Nations inspectors found nothing, and no wonder. In fact, nobody really knew which weapons really existed anymore. And all those who claim to know where they are hidden are only relaying fictitious information, even if they really believe them to be true.

Haitham Rashid Wihaib continues:

There can be no doubt that Saddam was considering the use of non-conventional weapons, as is witnessed by the presence of "Chemical Sally" by the side of the president during a televised confrence in May 2003. Paradoxically — unless it is a logical byproduct from having told so many lies — Saddam had turned into a somewhat credulous man. Thus, he was despoiled of colossal sums in exchange for fictitious weapons which existed only in the imagination of the sellers. Remember that his own father-in-law, the father of fifth wife Iman Mula Hawish, received several millions to pay for a revolutionary laser weapon — so revolutionary it had not yet been conceived — that was capable of intercepting or bringing down any enemy airplane penetrating Iraqi airspace. The president of North Korea was paid ten million dollars in exchange for middle-range missiles (800 km) that were never delivered.

It is in this atmosphere that, we are told, Bush and Blair should have made no move unless they had 100% assurance that WMD both existed and would be found. And if their armies haven't uncovered any, we are told that the only conclusion we must make is that they are liars (the liars being the same people who, we've been told umpteen times before, are routinely called hypocrites, reactionaries, racists, bigots, warmongers, vassals, brainless zombies, etc). As for me, the only conclusion I take from all this is the following: those who go on droning endlessly about "lies" and trying to stuff that charge down our throats are being disingenious in the extreme and are doing so above all for partisan reasons and to reinforce their own (self-serving) prejudices.

© Erik Svane & the New York Times (middle part)

France's newspaper of reference admits Bush did not lie about WMD (but…)

So Long As We Are Hunting for Liars in the Iraq Controversy

In general, would we rather take action to eliminate a danger that turns out to have been overstated — or take no action, and then be stunned when the enemy strikes?