Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

13 Jul, 2003

The Lies that Led the World to War in Iraq

Revisit the statements and speeches that were used to justify the war on Iraq and it becomes obvious that it was fought on the basis of utter fabrications, lies and deception.

Worse, the leaders of the so-called “international community,” the “free world”, the “democratic countries” or whatever one wishes to call them cannot be held to account by any international forum.

After lecturing the developing countries for years about transparency, accountability and democracy, little is being done to show any transparency, democracy and accountability for those lies, fabrications and deception.

Hence, this is clearly an age of global dictatorship – a megapower which can do pretty much anything to anyone it declares to be an enemy and never be held accountable — at least not yet. All this can be dressed up in the finest tradition of spin doctoring — the wolf of dictatorship disguised as democracy. How apt that one of the key wolves lurking in the background is named Wolfowitz.

Revisiting the rhetoric of justification for the war, which killed thousands of innocent people and has caused untold suffering, shows the scale of lies, fabrications and deception. If this is the future the world faces, some serious soul-searching is required to change it and ensure that injustice, lies, fabrications and deceptions do not pay.

To save my readers the trouble of going over their files, I compiled some of the choice comments made by the “leaders of the free world” as they banged the pre-war drums. I would particularly refer these comments to the Burmese junta which, upon getting another lecture on ‘democracy, transparency and accountability’ from the leaders of the ‘free world’, can fling it back in their faces and demand that they first practise what they preach.


George W Bush Jr, State of the Union address, Jan 29, 2003

The United Nations concluded that Saddam Hussein had materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin; enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure. He hasn’t accounted for that material. He’s given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He’s not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them, despite Iraq’s recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb.

The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.

Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide. The dictator of Iraq is not disarming. To the contrary, he is deceiving.


George W Bush Jr’s speech to the American Enterprise Institute, February 28, 2003.

In Iraq, a dictator is building and hiding weapons that could enable him to dominate the Middle East and intimidate the civilized world — and we will not allow it. (Applause.) This same tyrant has close ties to terrorist organizations, and could supply them with the terrible means to strike this country — and America will not permit it. The danger posed by Saddam Hussein and his weapons cannot be ignored or wished away. The danger must be confronted. We hope that the Iraqi regime will meet the demands of the United Nations and disarm, fully and peacefully. If it does not, we are prepared to disarm Iraq by force. Either way, this danger will be removed.

George W Bush Jr, later in the same speech:

The United States has no intention of determining the precise form of Iraq’s new government. That choice belongs to the Iraqi people. Yet, we will ensure that one brutal dictator is not replaced by another. All Iraqis must have a voice in the new government, and all citizens must have their rights protected. (Applause.)


Tony Blair, in an interview with the Independent UK, 02 March 2003

Q. How can you reconcile a pre-emptive attack on Iraq with your Christian beliefs, especially in view of the pressure from church leaders around the world?

A. Of course, my beliefs and values are obviously hugely important to me. I would never go into a war if I thought it were morally wrong or if I thought it was not in the best interests of this country. I have never claimed to have a monopoly of wisdom but, just as I don’t doubt the sincerity of those who oppose military action, I hope they will understand that I believe equally firmly that the international community can’t let Saddam’s defiance continue.

As I have said, I hope, even now, that military conflict can be avoided. We have gone out of our way to give Saddam another chance to disarm peacefully though this means he would stay in power. It is up to him whether he takes this chance.

Sending our forces into action is the hardest decision any prime minister ever makes. I’ve done it twice in major conflicts, and, there was opposition and understandable concern on both occasions.

The first time was when our forces intervened in Kosovo to halt the barbaric ethnic cleansing of Kosovan Albanians, who were Muslims, at the hands of Milosevic, another brutal dictator. The international community had tried hard by peaceful means to control the orgy of killing and expulsions that he had unleashed on the Balkans but failed.

Our military action was not without mistakes. Innocent people died. I deeply regret that. But the ethnic cleansing was halted. Milosevic was kicked out by the Serbs and is now on trial for war crimes. The Balkans now has the chance for a better future. I don’t think anyone could fairly say we were wrong to intervene.

And in Afghanistan, we have given people the chance to build a better future. They have a long, long way to go. But the Taliban, one of the most repressive regimes seen in modern times, has been removed. The al-Qa’ida training camps in Afghanistan have been destroyed, their network disrupted, their leaders killed, captured or on the run. Girls are going back to school. Life is still very hard but I don’t think one could say their chance of a peaceful and prosperous future is not better now than before we intervened.

Both these conflicts were controversial. Both led to innocent people being killed. But, I can say that, despite the difficulties and what went wrong, we did the right thing. And I would never commit British forces to any action unless I was confident we were acting for the right reasons and that, at the end of it, the world would be a safer and better place.


Report in the Independent UK, 04 February 2003.

The Prime Minister (Blair) admitted the British public was not yet convinced of the need for military action, but he told MPs: “When people say to me why are you risking everything in a sense, politically, on this issue I say to them in all honesty I do not want to be the Prime Minister when people point the finger back at history and say you knew perfectly well those two threats [weapons of mass destruction and terrorism] were there and you did nothing about it.”


Report in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz on February 1, 2003

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Wednesday will give the UN Security Council damning electronic evidence that Iraq has repeatedly lied to UN weapons inspectors, Newsweek said. In response to demands for hard evidence to justify military action, the U.S. administration has decided to release what experts call some of “the most jealously guarded of all U.S. intelligence secrets”, said the magazine.

The electronic intercepts made by the National Security Council (NSC) “prove that Iraq has repeatedly lied to UN inspectors, plotted among themselves about how to conceal weapons material and even appeared to boast afterward about their success”, Newsweek quoted officials as saying.


UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw statement to the UN security council on February 4, 2003

United and determined, we gave Iraq a final opportunity to rid itself of its weapons of mass terror, of gases which can poison thousands in one go; of bacilli and viruses like anthrax and smallpox which can disable and kill by the tens of thousands; of the means to make nuclear weapons which can kill by the million.

By resolution 1441 we strengthened inspections massively. The only missing ingredient was full Iraqi compliance – immediate, full and active cooperation.

But the truth is – and we all know this – without that full and active cooperation, inspections in a country as huge as Iraq, however strong the inspectors’ powers, could never be sure of finding all Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Sadly the inspectors’ reports last week and Secretary Powell’s presentation today can leave us under no illusions about Saddam Hussein’s response. Saddam Hussein holds UNSCR 1441 in the same contempt as all previous resolutions in respect of Iraq.


Tony Blair to the BBC website. 4 April 2003

“The one thing that I want to make absolutely clear is that at the end of this, Iraq is not going to be run by Americans or by Britons, or by any other outside power. As soon as the process of transition is over, it’s going to be run by Iraqi people and a broad, representative government, not a small clique, an elite around someone like Saddam.”


Report on the BBC website, 21 April 2003

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has denied that the US is planning long-term military involvement in Iraq, including bases. His comments follow a report in the New York Times newspaper, which said a number of senior officials had confirmed the plans.

Mr Rumsfeld said on Monday that the US was planning to discuss possible changes in its military presence in the Middle East with leaders in the region. But the possibility of maintaining a permanent presence in Iraq had not been discussed, he said. “I have never, that I can recall, heard the subject of a permanent base in Iraq discussed in any meeting,” he told a Pentagon briefing. “The likelihood of it seems to me to be so low that it does not surprise me that it’s never been discussed in my presence, to my knowledge.”


Colin Powell’s speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Washington DC., March 30

And let there be no doubt about the outcome. We will drive Saddam and his regime from power. We will liberate Iraq. We will remove the shadow of Saddam’s terrible weapons from Israel and the Middle East, and we will keep them from the hands of terrorists who would threaten the entire civilized world.


British MP Robin Cook, in a statement resigning as leader of the UK House of Commons

We cannot base our military strategy on the basis that Saddam is weak and at the same time justify pre-emptive action on the claim that he is a serious threat. Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly understood sense of that term – namely, a credible device capable of being delivered against strategic city targets. It probably does still have biological toxins and battlefield chemical munitions. But it has had them since the 1980s when the US sold Saddam the anthrax agents and the then British government built his chemical and munitions factories.