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5 Feb, 2012

ElBaradei’s book exposes the lies and liars behind the war in Iraq

Originally Published: 05 February 2012

The sabre rattling over an attack on Iran, now in full swing, is following the identical game-plan that was mounted before the 2003 attack on Iraq, according to a tell-all book by Dr Mohamed ElBaradei, the former director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The key question facing the world now is whether it will allow itself to be hoodwinked and lied into another war.

Entitled, “The Age Of Deception — Nuclear Diplomacy In Treacherous Times”, the book was originally published last April but has assumed greater relevance and importance today as the anti-Iran campaign mounts. The choice of the words “treacherous” and “deception” are not to be taken lightly, especially when used by a former diplomat and Nobel Prize winner who had an inside track to some of the most controversial geopolitical developments of the last decade.

The first-person account of actual meetings and events elevates their credibility. By going public with the treachery and deception, Dr ElBaradei offers a brazen indictment of global leadership, international relations and diplomacy, especially the United Nations, whose primary job is to preserve world peace but which becomes a pawn to be manipulated in pursuit of a more nefarious purpose.

Dr ElBaradei cites a meeting between himself, former UN Iraq weapons inspector Hans Blix and members of the U.S. leadership in which one of the people present was Paul Wolfowitz, the Jewish former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense and the man widely known to be the “architect of the Iraq war.”

Writes Dr ElBaradei, “Wolfowitz appeared indignant that he even had to be present. He was stiff and disinterested; his body language indicated that the meeting––and perhaps the whole notion of involving the United Nations––was a waste of time. When he finally spoke up, his tone was condescending. “Mr Blix,” he announced, leaning across the table, “you do know that these Iraqis have weapons of mass destruction?”

Mr ElBaradei narrates another meeting between himself, Mr. Blix, U.S. President George Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

He writes, “In what was more or less a monologue, Bush got right to the point. He asserted that he was in favour of using inspections to address WMD issues, and that he would prefer a peaceful resolution of the international concerns about Saddam’s regime. “I’m not a trigger-happy Texas cowboy, with six-guns,” he quipped, sliding forward on his armchair, hands on his hips, to show us how a cowboy would pull out his pistols. On the other hand, (Bush) countered, if peaceful approaches were unsuccessful he would not hesitate to lead a “coalition of the willing,” using military force.

“Bush kept repeating that it was an “honor” for him to meet with us, but he was not the least bit interested in anything we might have had to say. Together with our exchange with (former US Vice President Dick) Cheney, the encounter taught us clearly that the US administration viewed us as bit players in an operation they intended to control.”

With the decision to attack Iraq all but made, the campaign of deception followed.

Writes Dr ElBaradei, “There was a relentless barrage (of press reports). Every Iraqi action was deemed insufficient. Every delay was reported as evidence of a lack of cooperation. Every WMD–related accusation — Iraq’s attempts to procure aluminium tubes, it’s alleged mobile laboratories, its purported purchase of uranium from Niger, was given sensational coverage as new proof of Saddam Hussein’s malicious intent. But when the inspections found otherwise, the news was disputed or brushed aside as unimportant.”

Dr ElBaradei notes that the leaders who led the campaign against Iraq have all but admitted the deception.

“Both (former UK Prime Minister Tony) Blair and Bush have indicated that regime change was at the heart of the motivation to go to war, regardless of the justifications cited. Together with a number of their key associates, they significantly inflated imminence of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, weapons which in fact did not exist.”

Having succeeded with the Iraq deception, the U.S. leadership shifted its focus to Iran which now had to prove that it’s nuclear programme was peaceful. In other words, guilty until it could prove itself innocent.

Dr ElBaradei says, “Again the Americans had supposed ‘evidence’ of Iran’s real intentions.” In one IAEA board meeting, Dr ElBaradei says, “I issued a fierce refutation of the Americans obsessive––and logically incorrect––focus on what they called the evidence of Iran’s nuclear weapons intentions. “Frankly,” I declared, “I find it disingenuous that this word, evidence, has suddenly become a matter of contention. In fact, the credibility of the IAEA has increased since Iraq, because of our objectivity.”

He adds, “My reference was clear: if anyone had lost credibility over the careless use of the word ‘evidence’ it was the Americans and their allies in the catastrophic rush to war in Iraq. We were seeing daily evidence in Iraq of the consequences of the US and UK eagerness to promote unverified intelligence as evidence. To attack the IAEA for its adherence to facts was brazenly hypocritical.”

Dr ElBaradei also outlines the U.S. attempts to unseat him from his position because he wouldn’t do their bidding. One scathing comment is directed at the U.S. media: “The willingness of the press to be manipulated was particularly worrisome. Some of the key phrases used to criticise the agency were repeated in the mainstream US media, making me wonder whether the American government was behind an orchestrated campaign.”

Dr ElBaradei rues the results, with some sense of guilt about his own role. He writes, “The harshest reality of the Iraq war and its extended aftermath, an aspect that has been disturbingly minimised in Western media reports, is the Iraqi civilian loss of life. Estimates have ranged as high as 800,000 Iraqi deaths during the first three years of the war. This does not count the millions maimed or wounded, or the millions displaced from their homes and stripped off their livelihoods. The United States and the West in general have maintained a tight tally of the numbers of their soldiers killed. Yet the civilian population remains largely faceless and nameless in media reports. The same has been true, on a somewhat smaller scale, in Afghanistan.

“How can Western leaders fail to understand the outrage––and feelings of injustice, humiliation and bitterness––that this tragedy has provoked or the cultural scars that are likely to be with us for at least a generation?”

Dr ElBaradei says the world must learn its lessons and ensure no further repetition. He writes: “The UN Security Council, the international body charged with keeping world peace, must redirect its attention to the root causes of conflict rather than only the symptoms of insecurity. This would mean far greater emphasis on peacekeeping and peacemaking; on the early identification and prevention of disputes; on agile, effective mediation and reconciliation; and on taking ownership for resolving conflicts.”

He adds: “The rule of law is meaningless if we apply it only selectively.”

‘The Age of Deception’ (Google Books) By Mohamed ElBaradei

340 pp. Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt & Company. $27.