Iraq's WMD: Yes to No

Daily: The Statesman
Date: 22.03.04

March 18, 2004 will be remembered in the history of the world. It was a day when the
President of Poland, Aleksander Kwasniewski, finally said that Poland was deceived on
issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in Iraq—by the US and its allies. The date is
also important, as it is almost closing of the first year of Iraq’s occupation.   

Poland, an East European country, was persuaded to join the ‘coalition of the willing’ when
France poised to veto any such resolution in the Security Council demanding a mandate to
attack Iraq in search of WMD (Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical weapons). Poland has so
far contributed about 2500 soldiers in Iraq. She might withdraw troops from Iraq earlier than
planned.

Spain is the second ally who has said that she should keep her troops in Iraq to avoid civil
war, but only under United Nations’ umbrella—otherwise not. By saying so, the incoming
Socialist Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, is actually responding to the voice
of the people, as Spain went to war without the approval of majority of her people.

The International Institute of Strategic Studies in London has reported that global
recruitment for ‘anti-American jihad’ is rising and that many small, decentralized groups are
spawning that are difficult for governments to identify and curb than was the case before
the invasion. Coupled with that, the event of 3/11 in Madrid, Spain has raised alarms in the
whole Europe. Germany, for analyzing the threat perception in Europe, called an
emergency meeting of the European Union. Australia has also been trying to probe the
issue of WMD in her own way.

The ‘coalition of the willing’ took just one month to acquire complete hold on Iraq. On the
other hand, it has taken it one year to materialize the search for the WMD. Swift pouncing
but slow subsequent progress has put a big question mark on the countenance of the
coalition, which is now whittling away—to become a ‘coalition of the non-willing’—under the
pressure of question of legitimacy of its action.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said in the foreword of his intelligence report that Saddam’s
military planning had allowed for some of his WMD “to be ready within 45 minutes of an
order to use them”. However, his caliber could not analyze that to use where—in the
battlefield or ‘beyond that’? Blair now claims that he personally didn’t understand the
distinction. He thought ‘beyond that’.

On other side of the Atlantic, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of
State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld made many statements in
ominous tone that Saddam was in possession of WMD. For instance, on February 5, 2003,
Colin Powell delivered a speech at the United Nations to try and prove that Saddam was
maintaining a programme of WMD. He showed certain images of mobile units capable of
manufacturing WMD.

The fiction related to Saddam’s imminent use of WMD was dispatched by the British
intelligence agencies, as events predict. That is why, the American exonerate themselves
by saying that significant information were provided by ‘a friendly foreign government’, as
acknowledged by George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence agency (CIA) on
February 5, 2004. Further, he said that the American agencies could not gather much
information, as the American agents remained ‘on the periphery’ of Iraq’s illicit weapons
activities. This episode happened in the wake of a bold confession by David Kay, a former
nuclear weapon inspector, who led the CIA’s post-war effort to find WMD in Iraq. His
testimony to the US Senate “we were almost all wrong” about Iraq’s stockpiles of WMD
provoked uproar on January 28, 2004. Colin Powell seconded the stance of Key. David Key
had resigned on January 23, 2004 as head of the US and British weapons inspectors in
Iraq Survey Group (ISG). However, Powell did not.  

The British government has already come out of the Hutton Inquiry that it did not ‘sex up’
the September 2002 dossier to make a case for war. In other words, the whole onus lies on
the British intelligence agencies to incite the US agencies to make a case to invade Iraq
and provide a chance to the UK to stand shoulder-to-shoulder. The trips of Tony Blair to
various countries of the world to gather their support for the invasion in the pre-invasion
period support this theory. At that time, the difference was only Tony Blair. He was in a
position to stop the invasion, had he persuaded the US to listen to the request of Hans Blix
to provide more time to conclude. Today, after one year, it is clear that Hans Blix was right.
However, of course, gains of the UK in economic terms are more. This is how; economic
factor plays its role in international politics. The same trend predicts that among the
coalition only the UK will stand with the US in any future eventuality in Iraq. However, as
David Key concluded: ‘we have damaged our national credibility’. To add to it, the credibility
of words and deeds of both the countries—the US and the UK—has been undermined also
in the eyes of the global community.

Now, on both sides of the Atlantic no one is ready to own one’s mistake. Both think what
they did was in good faith. It was their intelligence agencies’ information gathering problem
that misled them. Cheney and Rumsfeld still believe that WMD are hidden somewhere and
are likely to be found—like Saddam Hussain.

An important player of the story is Hans Blix, the former UN chief weapon inspector, who
used to demand more time to conduct search—and further search. Basically, he could not
unequivocally declare at the UN’s platform about the absence of any such ‘smoking gun’ in
Iraq. Conversely, now, he is vocal on the issue. It implies that he might have been under
pressure from the US and/or the UK to produce something in affirmation. As he remained
unable to say yes, he had to seek more time. Bush has added the remaining flavor to the
sauce when he has been found in trying to prove that ‘regime change’ was more important
than finding WMD. In other words, the world misunderstood the words of the ‘war president’
and that the campaign for the UNSC Resolution 1441 was a joke.

In the center of the whole story stands the character: Saddam Hussain. He remained
concerned about his personal security than of Iraq. He used to smell the US spies entering
in disguise of the UN’s inspectors to harm him, somehow. Harassment of the inspectors by
his Ba’th regime and unaccounted destruction of WMD that he possessed till 1991, at least,
provided an excuse to his opponents to harbor suspicion about him. The same led to the
cooking of intention of  “achieving unfinished business with Iraq”. Moreover, the atrocities
he afflicted on Iran’s army men during Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) and subsequently on Kurd’
s population by using chemical and biological weapons isolated him from the Muslim world
as well as produced precedents of use of WMD, if and when required. During the period of
the imposed economic sanctions and the recent invasion of Iraq, the sufferers are the
people of Iraq—who cannot hide in cavities. The Iraqi fugitives like Saddam’s son-in-law,
Hussein Kamel Hassan, who defected to Jordan in 1995, played his due reactionary role of
‘an insider’ in boiling up the whole affair. Above all, two arguments sway in Saddam’s
favour. First, a pre-emptive strike on Iraq could have been possible had Saddam declared
the war—the theory of imminent threat. Second, no link between the 9/11 tragedy and Iraq
has been found yet.

From the whole saga of prewar and postwar Iraq, four points are significant. First, the
nature and direction of the unfinished business; second, role of the intelligence agencies of
the US and the UK; third, act of bypassing UNSC by the coalition; and four, postwar
monopoly and distribution of various contracts to the US and the UK contractors,
preferably. The conclusion drawn after having taken the four points together will be a
reminder of a similar event that happened in 1898, when American interests in Cuba
developed. An American ship, Maine, was blown up under—still unexplained—
circumstances in the harbour of Havana. The then President, Mickinley got an excuse and
declared a war on Spain in a pretext to ‘liberate’ the people of Cuba and the Philippines
from her colonial rule, as per the wishes of the Congress. At last, Spain surrendered and
handed over Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines to the USA. During the course
of the war, the US also occupied the Hawaii islands. Alaska and Hawaii became the last two
to join the USA. In this backdrop, for how long the ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ also remain
unexplained is still to be seen.

Who so ever is to be blamed, invasion of Iraq by getting around the UN has undermined the
reason of existence of the UN as an international institute where democracy prevails. The
way UN’s Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has been submitting to the US calls, the credibility
of the UN is dwindling.

In fact, Kofi Annan has not so far found a courage to ask both the US and UK to explain the
reasons as to why did they invade a sovereign country, Iraq, without due UN’s authorization
and in the wake of intense opposition both inside the UN and outside (people of the world)
of it? Under what law, UN’s weapon’s inspectors were stopped to perform their duties by the
coalition? What have they done with their intelligence agencies that betrayed their
governments? Can failure of the intelligence agencies an excuse to be extended for
exoneration of the responsibilities of heads of states? What delivery system has been
found in Iraq to throw the WMD in the coalition areas? When the WMD have not been found
even through the satellite detectors, what road map do they provide to leave Iraq? When
the UN was bypassed then why do they try to find UN’s umbrella for their future stay in Iraq?

Answer of all the aforementioned unanswered questions is hidden in the recent attitude of
Libya. Firstly, she admitted her mistake as an offender and secondly she gave consent to
compensate monetarily to the relatives of each victim of the 1998 Lockerbie airline bombing.

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