Ten years on – the reflection begins

by Andrew Mason

As we now approach the tenth anniversary of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq it appears that there is likely to be some significant re-examination of some of the supposedly “solid” evidence that became the major casus belli for this now recognisably illicit military intervention – namely that Iraq remained in possession of significant quantities of weapons of mass destruction and was still actively deceiving the authority of the United Nations.

Today is the exact anniversary of former US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s now largely-discredited speech given in a plenary session at the UN headquarters building in New York. Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern – who personally and professionally knew Powell – has written about the question of Powell’s role in his deceptive presentation at Counterpunch:

They should be asked this under oath in a formal inquiry into the Iraq War, a process that the United States has not undertaken even though its ally, the United Kingdom, at least asked some official questions (though little more) into how the disaster unfolded. Presumably, if such an inquiry were ever held in the United States, the participants – the links in the chain – would simply point to the interlocking others on either side.

Noted blogger Jon Schwarz has today similarly written about Powell’s fabricated case for war at his own site, A Tiny Revolution:

Unfortunately, Congress never investigated Powell’s use of the intelligence he was given, so we don’t know many of the specifics. Even so, what got into the public record in other ways is extremely damning. So while the corporate media has never taken a close look at this record, we can go through Powell’s presentation line by line to demonstrate the chasm between what he knew, and what he told the world. As you’ll see, there’s quite a lot to say about it…

3 comments to this article

  1. John Bone

    on February 6, 2013 at 1:32 pm -

    Both the articles cited ask whether Powell knew that what he was saying was far from solid, whether he should have suspected that it was far from solid, whether he should have asked more questions about what he was being asked to say. These questions, of course, apply to a vast number of politicians and journalists and civil servants on both sides of the Atlantic at that time. Too many seem to have considered that their job was just to repeat the talking points.

  2. LindaW

    on February 6, 2013 at 2:42 pm -

    Another thing that interests me why the governing classes and media failed to follow up / reply to the “common sense” doubts generally raised only by the public …

    Was it down to sheer arrogance? Was it conspiracy? Why were the governing classes so much more “stupid” than the governed?

  3. andrewsimon

    on February 7, 2013 at 12:18 am -

    In answer to both comments so far I think that the “you’re either with us or against us” mentality held sway with a lot of the participant players. To go against those at the top, particularly the office of the VPOTUS, meant to put one’s head on the chopping block once and for all time. Career prospects were at stake, and the courage of conviction counted for little. Witness those that have spoken out since – but only after they left the departments concerned or otherwise retired from public life. This has been more evident on the other side of the big pond – over here the only name that immediately springs to mind is that of Carne Ross, formerly first secretary responsible for Middle East affairs at the UK Mission to the UN in New York.

    The bigger question posited by both articles is whether Powell knew more than he let on – particularly in the opposite direction from his chosen stance. I believe he did have a greater understanding of the US’s – and particularly the Bush clan’s – enmity towards Saddam. This, I feel, is why no serious investigation into all that presaged the 2003 invasion has been properly mooted anywhere in the American political system. It may also be why our own Iraq Inquiry has been subtly influenced so as not to offend US administrative sensitivities, and indeed why the UK examination of the facts is taking so long.

    (Perhaps we will be able to discuss this matter further after the subject of my next intended posting has been aired.)