Thursday, November 24, 2005

Duped into War

Joe Wilson thinks that Tony Blair was "double-crossed by the regime change crowd in Washington." Either Wilson isn't as smart as I thought he was -- and I doubt that -- or he is being overly kind to Tony. Because there can simply be no way that Blair was duped by the Bush administration. Wilson wants to believe, or wants us to believe, though I am not at all sure why, that Blair was genuinely interested in the "threat" aspect of the Hussein regime and was merely concerned with disarmament. It has been clear for sometime that that simply cannot be the case.

Blair knew perfectly well what he was doing. And we know Blair knew what he was doing, as evidenced by the Downing Street memos. Blair's cabinet was "fixing the facts" to make the case for war. UN weapons inspector David Kelly's early statements that the intelligence was being "sexed up" had ultimtely been backed up by the emergence of these documents.

We must ask, why would Tony Blair and his cabinet be engaged in "fixing the facts" around WMD claims when it had been known at the time that Iraq had none of the purported weapons capabilities that Bush and Blair were claiming. The deadliest threat being trumpeted by the both of them -- or their proxies -- was the "mushroom cloud" scenario; nuclear capabililty. But the Amorim panel report of March 1999 had clearly indicated that Iraq's nuclear capabality had long since been eradicated. Wilson's own findings in Niger and UN weapons inspections prior to the invasion confirmed what was well known in 1999:
Most of the IAEA activities involving the destruction, removal and rendering harmless of the components of Iraq's nuclear weapons programme which to date have been revealed and destroyed were completed by the end of 1992. In February 1994, the IAEA completed the removal from Iraq of all weapon-usable nuclear material essentially research reactor fuel. On the basis of its findings, the Agency is able to state that there is no indication that Iraq possesses nuclear weapons or any meaningful amounts of weapon-usable nuclear material or that Iraq has retained any practical capability (facilities or hardware) for the production of such material.
Of course, everything here was confirmed by the post-invasion Duelfer report of the Iraq Survey Group. And no one should have believed that Iraq could have reconstituted a nuclear weapons capability in two or three years.

But back to the question of Blair fixing the facts if he was concerned about disarmament. It should have been obvious to anyone with access to all the UNSCOM intelligence and reports that Iraq really could not have posed much of a threat. And given this, why would Blair be concerned about disarming a country that had no major stocks of arms, especially the kind that Blair would later crow about?

These rhetorical questions should make obvious the point that Blair had committed his government to drumming up intelligence opposing the known facts. And he did this, most likely, not because he necessarily had ambitions in Iraq as the Bush administration did, but simply because he couldn't say no to Bush. This seems like a desperately petty reason to back an illegal war, but I can't really figure out what else it could be. Despite the fact that the majority of Britons were opposed to an Iraq invasion, Blair chose to back Bush for reasons known only to himself. I suspect it might be out of some concern for not being roasted by the White House administration as "soft on terror," or being slapped with any of the wide variety of animadversions that were being cast upon the rest of the wastrels on the UN Security Council. You know, the ones who were advocating more inspections because they knew the evidence being claimed by the White House was shakey and, to put it mildly, suspect.

Tony Blair was not duped by the White House and I can't understand why Wilson would even say this. Blair had a full hand in making the case for invasion based on WMD when he knew, as much as anyone else, that case was not well supported.


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