Brown tells Tribune why he backed the war

by Chris Ames

The exact date for Gordon Brown’s appearance at the Inquiry “in early March” has yet to be announced but he has pre-empted the hearing with an interview with Tribune:

Gordon Brown has revealed that he did not support military action against Saddam Hussein because of the possible existence of weapons of mass destruction.

The threat of a WMD attack on British interests was the primary reason given to the House of Commons by Prime Minister Tony Blair for the invasion of Iraq and the reason many MPs backed it.

But in an exclusive interview with Tribune, Mr Brown said that it was not the threat of WMDs – later proven to be non-existent – but Saddam Hussein’s failure to comply with international demands on disclosure that persuaded him that action was necessary.

The will raise fresh questions about the basis and legality of Britain’s involvement in the invasion in coalition with the United States. Mr Brown’s predecessor Tony Blair has never wavered in his view that the threat was considered real at the time.

32 comments to this article

  1. Stan Rosenthal

    on February 18, 2010 at 6:55 pm -

    I see no huge diference beteen Brown’s support for the invasion and Blair’s.

    Blair was arguing that WMD must still be considered a threat because Saddam was not complying with UN resolutions designed to remove that threat.

    Brown is arguing that his main concern was Saddam not complying with those UN resolutions, which in efect amounts to the same thing.

  2. barb bishop

    on February 18, 2010 at 8:08 pm -

    It appears Gordon Brown is intending to redirect the inquiry and public debate to Saddam/Iraq’s non compliance with 11 UNSC Chapter V11 resolutions culminating in 1441. Always the commonsense position in my view, then and now. It was, of course, also the emphasis of the first third of Blair’s speech to the Commons in March 2003.

    Inquiry gives Gordon the opportunity to play the statesman going into the election campaign and he will make full use of it.

  3. chris lamb

    on February 18, 2010 at 8:20 pm -

    If Brown wants to appear honest and with integrity to the public, he should personally intervene to enable the Chilcot Inquiry to publish the Cabinet minutes of 13 and 17 March, in the process demonstrating the veracity of his concerns about “non-compliance” and how he developed them in Cabinet.

    Brown should also answer why he considered a large scale military invasion to bring about regime change in Iraq, which was spuriously delegated to and led by the US and UK, a better strategy to achieve fuller Iraqi compliance than strengthening and extending the weapons inspectorate after a careful consideration by the Security Council of the degree of Iraqi co-operation already achieved and the scale of the disarmament task left to it?

    As Sir Michael Wood argued; if force had been chosen by the Security Council it would have needed to be calibrated against the scale of disarmament outstanding so that it would be proportionate to the task.

    The military invasion led by the US and UK was entirely disproportionate, of a scale and intensity to whip up a huge insurgency which included not only the Sunni tribe (the main backers of Baathite power) but also tribes historically oppressed by and opposed to the Baathist regime; the Shias and Marsh Arabs. It also opened a vortex of insecurity in Iraq into which al Quaeda entered.

    If there had been WMD, this fracturing of conflict against the invasion and enhancement of insecurity would have immeasurably increased the risk of their use.

    Brown’s position is as culpable as Blair’s in respect of this and he should provide an answer.

  4. Chris Ames

    on February 18, 2010 at 8:47 pm -

    Blair’s speech on 18 March 2003 was indeed remarkable.

    Very convincing, and yet I’m struggling to find a single concrete example of post-1441 non compliance, except of course that they hadn’t owned up to having wmd:

    “Indeed we are asked to believe that after seven years of obstruction and non-compliance finally resulting in the inspectors leaving in 1998, seven years in which he hid his programme, built it up even whilst inspection teams were in Iraq, that after they left he then voluntarily decided to do what he had consistently refused to do under coercion.

    When the inspectors left in 1998, they left unaccounted for: 10,000 litres of anthrax; a far reaching VX nerve agent programme; up to 6,500 chemical munitions; at least 80 tonnes of mustard gas, possibly more than ten times that amount; unquantifiable amounts of sarin, botulinum toxin and a host of other biological poisons; an entire Scud missile programme.

    We are now seriously asked to accept that in the last few years, contrary to all history, contrary to all intelligence, he decided unilaterally to destroy the weapons. Such a claim is palpably absurd.”

    Palpably absurd indeed.

    “I won’t to go through all the events since then – the house is familiar with them – but this much is accepted by all members of the UNSC: the 8 December declaration is false. That in itself is a material breach. Iraq has made some concessions to cooperation but no-one disputes it is not fully cooperating. Iraq continues to deny it has any WMD, though no serious intelligence service anywhere in the world believes them.”

    And there is this:

    “On 7 March, the inspectors published a remarkable document. It is 173 pages long, detailing all the unanswered questions about Iraq’s WMD. It lists 29 different areas where they have been unable to obtain information. For example, on VX it says: “Documentation available to Unmovic suggests that Iraq at least had had far reaching plans to weaponise VX …

    “Mustard constituted an important part (about 70%) of Iraq’s CW arsenal … 550 mustard filled shells and up to 450 mustard filled aerial bombs unaccounted for … additional uncertainty with respect of 6526 aerial bombs, corresponding to approximately 1000 tonnes of agent, predominantly mustard.

    “Based on unaccounted for growth media, Iraq’s potential production of anthrax could have been in the range of about 15,000 to 25,000 litres … Based on all the available evidence, the strong presumption is that about 10,000 litres of anthrax was not destroyed and may still exist.” ”

    Blair once again demonstrates that he does not know the difference between a strong presumption and a proven fact.

    “We then worked on a further compromise. We consulted the inspectors and drew up five tests based on the document they published on 7 March. Tests like interviews with 30 scientists outside of Iraq; production of the anthrax or documentation showing its destruction.”

    And of course if they could not produce the anthrax or the documentation showing its destruction, they must still have it… unless they destroyed it pre-1441 and didn’t keep the documents.

    It’s all speculation, from beginning to end.

    And then there is this:

    RT HON JACK STRAW MP: But can we also be clear that the United States,
    9 since they had agreed to the UN route and had also
    10 agreed that we should seek a second resolution, had not
    11 made a final decision that they would go to war come
    12 what may, and as you will be aware, right until the
    13 last, this coalition was saying, “We will take yes for
    14 an answer from Saddam”, and actually, if he had left and
    15 then shown cooperation, that would have been the end of
    16 it.
    17 SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Are you sure on that? You mentioned
    18 you had regular conversations with Colin Powell. I’m
    19 not asking you to quote him directly, but did you ever
    20 get any reason from him to believe that the US timetable
    21 could be extended significantly?
    22 RT HON JACK STRAW MP: Well, the it
    was a you
    23 get it it
    was well,
    start again. We had had it
    24 extended through a significant part of February and then
    25 through March, first of all. The impression I got from
    him I’m
    not quoting him, this is simply my
    2 impression was
    that you might be able to extend it
    3 from the point of view of military alone for a short
    4 while, a week to ten days, but for all sorts of
    5 operational reasons, it would have been difficult to
    6 sustain it for longer.
    7 That said, had we got the second resolution to which
    8 the US were fully signed up, and it included those six
    9 benchmarks in it, had they been complied with, and they
    10 were designed so they could be complied with, there
    11 wouldn’t have been military action.
    12 SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: We will come to whether that was
    13 plausible. Was there any point where Powell said to you
    14 that, even if Iraq complied, President Bush had already
    15 made a decision that he intended to go to war?

    It’s not quite “liar, liar pants are on fire”, but it’s not far off.

  5. Stan Rosenthal

    on February 18, 2010 at 9:25 pm -

    Chris, I was wondering how force could have been “calibrated against the scale of disarmament outstanding so that it would be proportionate to the task” Then I realised there was an obvious answer.

    First, you secure general agreement on the scale of disarmament outstanding, say 23.565%, then you reduce the force you originally intended to use to this proportion, then you get Saddam to reduce his counter-force to the same proportion and finally you get him to agree to fight it out in the desert away from civilian areas, with both sides shaking hands on the outcome thus avoiding all the terrible consequences of the actual invasion.

    Simple really. What a tragedy that the UN didn’t follow that approach.

    And if there had been WMD, of course it would have been far better to have left them in the hands of an unfractured Iraq under Saddam and his psychopathic sons who would have never dreamed of using them.

    Brilliant analysis, Chris. How different it would have been if you had been in charge.

  6. John Bone

    on February 18, 2010 at 9:27 pm -

    Precisely, Chris. At the time of the invasion, the logic of the Government (and the Opposition) was that we knew Iraq had WMD, Iraq hadn’t handed them over, so Iraq was defying the UN! It’s hard to know what the logic is now.

  7. barb bishop

    on February 18, 2010 at 10:41 pm -

    Chris much admire your Lester Piggott emulation but I suspect Gordon Brown may very well despatch the ailing horse to the hereafter as far as the public is concerned.

  8. Stan Rosenthal

    on February 18, 2010 at 10:44 pm -

    Very simple, John. The logic is and was that all the evidence suggested that Saddam still had WMD, he refused to comply with UN resolutions requiring him to demonstrate that he no longer had them (by giving unfettered access to inspectors), so the assumption had to be that Saddam had something to hide. QED.

  9. chris lamb

    on February 18, 2010 at 11:21 pm -

    The concept of proportionality is core to the position held by the UK Government Law Officers for the use of force in public international law and central to Goldsmith’s 07 March 2003 legal advice. Without “proportionality” as well as an (alleged) legal basis, military force would not be lawful in Goldsmith’s view ([paragraph 36):

    Proportionality is defined by Goldsmith (after the Law Officers) as the limitation of any force to what is strictly necessary to secure compliance with the disarmament obligations set for Iraq under SC resolutions.

    (There is no indication that he changed this requirement in the advice of 17 March).

    Thus, the determination of “proportionality”, under the terms of SCR1441, could only be made with reference (in the form of all reports from UNMOVIC and the IAEA) to how far Iraq had already co-operated in disarming and what the weapons inspectors assessed to be outstanding in the task of disarmament.

    By 07 March, UNMOVIC had reported significantly improved co-operation from Iraq and the finding of no WMDs.

    It should have been for the Security Council to judge from its assessment of the weapons inspectors reports whether military force as distinct from other options, such as the strengthening and extension of the regime of inspection, should have applied.

    Exerting more force could have meant strengthening the criteria applied for inspection. It does not only have a military meaning. Its defintion would dependend upon how the Security Council assessed and defined “proportionality”.

    The automaticity route for the military invasion dispensed entirely with any assessment of how serious “non-compliance” was; what the remaining tasks of disarmament were (from a proper deliberation of weapons inspectors reports) and thus, what “proportionality” should be in its enforcement strategy.

    If you read Francis Fukuyama’s “After the Neocons” (Profile Books, 2006), you will see that even the US was alarmed about the “terrorist” threat that would come from disaffected and fundamentalist groups in civil society where states which house them- no matter how oppressive- collapse or are topppled, leaving a vaccuum of extreme insecurity. I believe that a report was made available to the Bush administration in 2002 about the danger of this if the Baathist state was toppled.

    I should tell you Stan, as you insultingly infer that I am an apologist for the Baathist regime, that I loathe the oppressiveness of Saddam’s regime as much as you- and, indeed, the hypocrisy of Western powers who armed him. I have also never been an opponent of military force against this regime but with the key proviso that it would be used in the last analysis as a result of collective decision making by the UN Security Council. I believe that where ever possible nations should self-determine their own changes of government.

    My opposition to the Iraq war has always centred on the flagrant abuse of the protocols and processes of the UN Security Council in this case. If not stopped in its tracks, it may well become a precedent for arbitrary superpower international policing and displays of force replacing the rule of collective security in maintaining international peace and security.

  10. Lee Roberts

    on February 19, 2010 at 5:57 am -

    Brown is even stupider than I thought. We had to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people and destroy a society just because Saddam wasnt, in our view, carrying out the rules. Brown is pure Monty Python.

  11. Chris Ames

    on February 19, 2010 at 7:52 am -

    Stan, you say over and over again that Saddam refused to comply with inspectors and failed to give them unfettered access.
    Apart from the propaganda put out by Alastair Campbell and the Coalition Information Centre, what evidence – or a concrete example – do you have on this?
    You keep suggesting that Iraq “fettered” the access of the inspectors but everytime I ask you to stand this up, you cannot do so…

  12. Anthony

    on February 19, 2010 at 10:49 am -

    How can you seriously say ‘The logic is and was that all the evidence suggested that Saddam still had WMD’? I don’t understand why anybody would argue a case if it was so weak that they had to say things like that to try to sustain it.

    On nuclear, which was what most people believed the Government to be talking about when they said WMD, literally all of the evidence suggested the opposite – that Saddam didn’t still have anything.

    Even on the lesser issue of battlefield C/B munitions, the only evidence that suggested that Saddam still had it was known to be unreliable and there was plenty of evidence that he didn’t. Blix had inspected every site identified by the so-called evidence and had found nothing. Blix reported that the Iraqis were cooperating.

    The real question is whether in terms of proportionality the true facts of the matter justified a massive, unplanned and in the event catastrophic act of invasion and regime change. The Government gave its own answer to that question – by distorting the facts in order to try to justify it, they implicitly acknowledged that the facts didn’t justify it. Seven years down the line, you seem to be doing the same thing.

    I actually think ‘lessons learned’ is a good context for an inquiry. But until you can face the facts, you can’t learn lessons and move on. What we’ve seen so far in the inquiry is that the Government can’t face the facts and, like Blair the other day, can only justify their actions on the basis of falsehoods.

  13. John Bone

    on February 19, 2010 at 12:27 pm -

    There were no WMD in Iraq in 2003. People who thought that it was an established fact that there were WMD in Iraq in 2002 or 2003 should try to think through all the assumptions that they were making to identify where they went wrong. It is difficult for someone like me to understand where they went wrong, because they haven’t set out their assumptions and analysed them. They cannot simply repeat that all the evidence pointed to Iraq having WMD when, in my opinion, it didn’t: it pointed to a great deal of uncertainty. I don’t know why the UK government wanted inspections when, later, it ignored the results of the inspections and said that it already knew that Iraq was hiding WMD.

    The logic seems to be that Iraq had WMD in the 1980s so it would still have them in the 1990s and post-2000. The assumption is being made that nothing changed between the 1980s and 2002. That assumption is wrong: a great deal changed. The international community turned a blind eye to what Iraq did in the 1980s. Eventually after 1991 Iraq realised that the international community was serious about disarmament and wasn’t going to turn a blind eye to superguns or WMD. The 1991 ceasefire created a strong incentive to disarm. It was therefore possible that Iraq had disarmed or that it hadn’t, and the inspections would be the key.

    The logic that pointed to it being a certainty that Iraq had WMD was faulty. The culture of group-think in political circles meant that the faulty logic wasn’t challenged, except from outside. This faulty logic is the problem, not the answer.

  14. Stan Rosenthal

    on February 19, 2010 at 12:31 pm -

    Chris (Ames), if you want evidence that Saddam wasn’t providing unfettered access to the inspectors, just read their reports, right up to their final ones. I’ve given you links before.

    Anthony, if the evidence was so thin why did almost almost every major intelligence agency and government in the world believe that Saddam still had WMD (and most people did not think they were mainly about nuclear weapons)?

    Proportionality, as I’ve said before, is about perceived threats. If the threat is seen as a dictator who has used WMD before using them again at some point, and if that dictator refuses to allowing free access to verify that he no longer has these weapons (as he was required to do as a first Gulf War cease-fire condition and under subsequent UN resolutions) then the proportionate response is regime change to ensure that Iraq abides by these conditions (not to mention the proportionate response to Saddam tyrannising his own people)..

  15. Chris Ames

    on February 19, 2010 at 12:52 pm -

    So Stan, once again you cannot back up the assertion that you make over and over again.

  16. Stan Rosenthal

    on February 19, 2010 at 1:43 pm -



  17. Chris Ames

    on February 19, 2010 at 2:31 pm -

    Stan, you keep saying that Iraq did not give the inspectors unfettered access and yet you can never quote a single bit of evidence that backs this up.

  18. Anthony

    on February 19, 2010 at 4:20 pm -

    You’ve answered your own question. You initially said ‘The logic is and was that all the evidence suggested that Saddam still had WMD’. Now you correct yourself – they had no evidence, they just had belief. And they thought belief in the absence of evidence justified an invasion. Well it didn’t.

    Several witnesses have made the point that they were misled by their belief – it led them to be even more certain that Saddam was deceiving them, specifically because they could find no evidence. The less evidence they found the more certain they were of his non-compliance.

    Stan these are the people with their fingers on the nuclear button and you think it’s ok for them to declare war on the basis of unevidenced belief? I certainly don’t. There is a huge need here for facing the facts and learning lessons. Tony Blair’s performance was deeply disturbing and I fear Gordon Brown’s will be likewise.

  19. Stan Rosenthal

    on February 19, 2010 at 7:00 pm -

    Let’s have some logic here.

    Chris,I have cited my evidence, the reports of the UN inspectors. I have already linked you to their last report referring to obstacles that were put in their way in a previous comment. Obstacles being put in one’s way does not equate to “unfettered” access. I’m actually getting tired of repeating myself in this forum (particularly when the points I’ve made don’t seem to register) so perhaps you can track down the evidence I have cited yourself.

    Anthony, the evidence was in the intelligence being received. This wasn’t simply a belief. The fact that much of the intelligence was later found to have been probably false does not nullify the fact that it was regarded as evidence at the time. And by not allowing unfettered inspections Saddam was indicating that that this evidence was true, which seems to have been his game plan all along according to that ISG interview with him. Get it?

  20. Chris Ames

    on February 19, 2010 at 7:34 pm -

    Stan, it’s just one bluff after another, isn’t it? I couldn’t find any evidence you cited about obstruction, hampering inspectors that sort of thing. I did find this:

    “He [Saddam] raised hardly any difficulties in their work and let them freely search for prohibited weapons which after the cat and mouse play with the UN in the 90s almost all thought were there – but which did not exist. There was no obstruction that could persuade the Security Council to give green light to armed action by which weapons and Saddam could be eliminated.”

    Oh no, that was Hans Blix

    Still, what does he know? If Stan Rosenthal says they were obstructed at every turn, it must have happened. After all it said so in the dodgy dossier from Alastair Campbell.

  21. Chris Ames

    on February 19, 2010 at 7:45 pm -

    Sorry Stan, I misparaphrased you, it was “thwarted at every turn”.

    You found the smoking gun! Here it is:

    Blix: “And I wasn’t sure whether the
    cooperation was that great”

    So to recap. In the absence of any actual wmd, the British government was right to say that they were there because Blix said he “wasn’t sure” that the cooperation was that great. An uncertain negative becomes hard evidence that Saddam was refusing to comply = a case for war. Presumably Brown will have something stronger – or will he just tell us that no-one believed that Iraq was co-operating, just like everyone thought they had wmd?

  22. chris lamb

    on February 19, 2010 at 8:36 pm -

    Stan, in his comment of 12.31, has “proportionality” entirely wrong, confusing it with pre-emptive self defence which deals in “perceived threats”. This, unfortunately for him, has been declared as having no basis in international law, even by one of his heroes, Lord Goldsmith.

    “Proportionality” is an assessment of the tasks remaining to be undertaken in order to bring to completion a prescribed legal course of action- in this case, the disarmament of Iraq as laid down in R1441- as based on evidence and facts collected and verified for the purpose.

    However, Stan is hardly likely to comprehend the difference as he is evidently severely challenged in his factual understanding of the documented role of UNMOVIC and the IAEA as weapons inspectorates under R1441.

  23. Anthony

    on February 19, 2010 at 9:39 pm -

    I’m sorry we’re in ‘get it?’ mode Stan, but respect to you anyway for persevering when you’re in a minority.

    But reverting to the point, we seem to have moved from belief constituting evidence sufficient to justify an invasion to you now saying that a lack of evidence constituted positive evidence sufficient to justify an invasion.

    You say in ‘not allowing unfettered inspections Saddam was indicating that that this evidence was true’, but in fact Blix was able to go to every site where the so-called intelligence indicated that there would be WMD and he found none, nor any sign that any had ever been there. That was actually real evidence – not only that there was no WMD, but also that the intelligence should not be taken to be reliable.

    The really remarkable thing is that the belief was so strong that it survived even in the face of positive evidence that our so-called intelligence about WMD sites never turned out to have been right when somebody went there to look.

  24. Stan Rosenthal

    on February 19, 2010 at 11:12 pm -

    My, my, I must really have touched some raw nerves with all this ganging up on me.

    I see you’re all in nitpicking semantic mode again, which is always a sign that the main thrust of the argument has been lost.

    The main thrust on the i441/inspections argument, Chris (Ames, was that Saddam’s compliance had to be “immediate, unconditional and active”

    According to Wikipaedia “Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei presented several reports to the UN detailing Iraq’s level of compliance with Resolution 1441.[2] [3] [4]. On January 27, 2003 Chief UN Weapons Inspector Blix addressed the UN Security Council and stated “Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance — not even today — of the disarmament, which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world and to live in peace.”[5] Blix went on to state that the Iraqi regime had allegedly misplaced “1,000 tonnes” of VX nerve agent—one of the most toxic ever developed.[6]

    By mid-February the issues of anthrax, the nerve agent VX and long-range missiles remained unresolved. Blix’s March 7 report stated “Iraq, with a highly developed administrative system, should be able to provide more documentary evidence about its proscribed weapons programmes. Only a few new such documents have come to light so far and been handed over since we began inspections.”

    Blix’s report also stated: “What are we to make of these activities? One can hardly avoid the impression that, after a period of somewhat reluctant cooperation, there has been an acceleration of initiatives from the Iraqi side since the end of January. This is welcome, but the value of these measures must be soberly judged by how many question marks they actually succeed in straightening out. This is not yet clear. Against this background, the question is now asked whether Iraq has cooperated “immediately, unconditionally and actively” with UNMOVIC, as required under paragraph 9 of resolution 1441 (2002). The answers can be seen from the factual descriptions I have provided.

    However, if more direct answers are desired, I would say the following. It is obvious that, while the numerous initiatives, which are now taken by the Iraqi side with a view to resolving some long-standing open disarmament issues, can be seen as “active”, or even “proactive”, these initiatives 3-4 months into the new resolution cannot be said to constitute “immediate” cooperation. Nor do they necessarily cover all areas of relevance”

    Whatever Blix has said subsequently, at the time he confirmed that Saddam had not cooperated with the requirements of 1441 to the degree that had been laid down. Quibbling about the degree of obstruction and how much progress had been made or was expected to be made is irrelevant in this context.

    Likewise Chris (Lamb), the main thrust of my proportionality argument is that the degree of force used should be related to the perceived threat. This has nothing to do with “preemptive defence”, which is a semantic straw man you have set up to knock down as is your legalistic definition of proportionality.

    Anthony, thanks for the gracious bit at the start of your comment which is rather in contrast to the tone of the other ones.

    In your case the main thrust of my argument was that by not fully cooperating with those UN resolutions Saddam was giving the impression that he was trying to hide the evidence of WMD suggested by the intelligence. Even if the inspectors were allowed to go everywhere at a time of their choosing (which I would like to see the evidence for)it is clear from the inspectors’s reports that he wasn’t cooperating across the board as he was required to do.

    And not finding WMD in these circumstances is not proof that they do not exist given the ways in which they can be hidden in a country the size of Iraq. That is why complete cooperation (not partial cooperation) was considered so important by those who drew up 1441.

    As it happens some chemicals and banned long distance missiles were found when the ISG went in after the war, together with evidence that Saddam intended to reconstitute his weapons at a time of his choosing. That is why some still believe that more weapons were secreted away somewhere, even though they have not been found yet.

  25. Anthony

    on February 19, 2010 at 11:59 pm -

    Stan, I trust you won’t ever be arrested on re-entering the country after going on holiday. If you were arrested and charged with trafficking illegal drugs, I’m sure you would point out that no illegal drugs had been found on you nor in your luggage. But the arresting officer might say that he believed you had been trafficking illegal drugs for many years, and so did all his colleagues. So the fact that he hadn’t actually found any was simply evidence that you were concealing your illegal drugs and didn’t prevent him from charging you.

    He might then demand that you provide him with a list of your illegal drugs or indeed if you sought to prove that you didn’t have any, details of when, where and according to which protocols you had disposed of them. You might point out that you couldn’t do either of those things because you had never had any. He would then charge you with obstruction and refusal to cooperate with an officer in the course of his duty.

    But at least you’d have the consolation that you would think justice had been done!

    I wouldn’t. Nothing found equals no evidence. No evidence equals not guilty. That’s the law, that is.

  26. Lee Roberts

    on February 20, 2010 at 5:21 am -

    It is bizzare that according to Stan, it was OK to kill over a hundred thousand people and destroy a whole society just because Saddam couldnt cope with a catch 22. How could he possibly prove that Blair was lying especially when Rumsfeld had already announced that even if they couldnt find WMDs that did not prove they didnt exist. This was a contrived trap from the start. We know that Blair proposed THIS trap in preference to Bush’s idea of sending a fake UN plane over Baghdad hoping Saddam would shoot it down. Stan treats all of this as if it was honest and well intentioned. When you have two unscrupulous cheats building a trap for a once heralded golden boy of America to fall into, it is sheer lunacy to argue that Saddam was not cooperating. Blix has already said that his level of non-cooperation was far too marginal to warrant an attack. We know that Blair and Bush set this up entirely as a pretext. They had zero concern about WMDs because they were lying about them at the timer and knew they were lying. So, Stan, your arguments are, candidly, rubbish. They are also dishonourable. What you dont realise, apparently, is that the issue for most of us isnt whether or not Saddam was forced from office, but the lies and deceptions which Blair and Bush used to do so. Another few months of arms inspections would have reached the judgment that all the claims about WMDs were deliberately fabricated, which is why BUsh and Blair had to stop the arms inspections and invade when they did. Their catch 22 was unravelling very fast. And so we have over a hundred thousand innocent Iraqis massacred, two million displaced, and a society destroyed.

  27. barb bishop

    on February 20, 2010 at 6:39 am -

    Stan Rosenthal: “I see you’re all in nitpicking semantic mode again, which is always a sign that the main thrust of the argument has been lost”

    You’re not on your pat malone, Stan. Going by the accounts in his book Hans Blix had similar experiences in his conversations with Saddam’s representatives in Baghdad.

    There was poor Hans trying to convey the main thrust of the argument in a Swedish diplomese version of “you are going to be kaboomed by the US neos if you don’t help me save you” … only to be greeted by nitpics, semantics and etc ….

    Hans could never get them to address the main argument and neither will you with this group I predict!

  28. Chris Ames

    on February 20, 2010 at 9:14 am -

    Sorry Stan, where exactly is the evidence that Iraq refused to comply with UN resolutions and failed to provide unfettered access?

  29. Stan Rosenthal

    on February 20, 2010 at 11:14 am -

    Lee, you’re quite right. Saddam should have been left to murder his own people and reconstitute his weapons to impose his will on neighbouring countries and make him invulnerable to attack.

    At least our hands would have been clean. Rather like Pontius Pilate!

    Barb, (without irony) you’re also quite right as Chris’s latest comment nicely illustrates.

  30. andrewsimon

    on February 20, 2010 at 11:56 am -

    Stan –

    Blix went on to state that the Iraqi regime had allegedly misplaced “1,000 tonnes” of VX nerve agent—one of the most toxic ever developed.[6]

    Is it ‘nitpicking’ to point out that this Wikipedia page needs rewriting because Blix never actually stated this? The maximum amount of VX that was ‘unaccounted’ for was 1.5 tonnes, and this was only because its destruction could not be verified.

    This agent was VX produced according to the “route B” method and is known to degrade rapidly. According to UNMOVIC:

    “VX produced through route B must be used relatively quickly after production (about 1 to 8 weeks), which would probably be satisfactory for wartime requirements.”

    Therefore there was no chance of this product remaining viable and a threat to anyone. Did the British Government ever understand any of this? Do you?

  31. Lee Roberts

    on February 20, 2010 at 1:39 pm -

    Stan, by that foolish comment, I take it you have thrown in the towel

  32. chris lamb

    on February 22, 2010 at 7:47 pm -


    I trust you have read the US National Security Strategy of September 2002 which lays out the Bush administration’s definition of “pre-emptive self defence”, which it applied to Iraq and was discernably an undercurrent of its negotiating position for R1441? You know, the one that Goldsmith said was illegal.

    It is not my “straw man”.

    It would be rather difficult not to give a “legalistic” definition of “proportionality” as it is a concept derived from international law, respected by UK Government Law Officers- even Goldsmith it would appear.