International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

October 7, 2003

October 7, 2003




**  Writers say WMD report shows Iraq had been "disarmed" and war was "tilting at windmills."


**  Pro-war UK papers retort that WMD were not "the be-all and end-all" of the threat.


**  The "Iraqi precedent" will complicate future WMD and terrorism challenges.




WMD claims were 'fairy tales'--  Globally, commentators said the Iraq Survey Group's (ISG) interim report "has failed to supply evidence for the vast majority" of pre-war claims about Iraqi WMD.  "Hans Blix deserves an apology," declared the UK's tabloid Daily Mirror.  India's nationalist Hindustan Times agreed:  "If the U.S. had the patience to wait for the UN weapons inspectors led by Hans Blix to complete their investigation, there would have been no war."  Writers criticized the report as "an insult to the intelligence of anybody capable of reading," stating David Kay had rejected objectivity in favor of an "ideological interpretation of the facts."  The  U.S. and UK need to uncover "chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and factories for making them and not paperwork," according to an African broadsheet.


'An ironic outcome' for Blair--  Though the tabloid Sun, citing the "frightening reading" in the Kay report, declared that "no one can now doubt that Saddam was a menace that had to be taken out," the reaction of most pro-war British dailies was more subdued.  While stating that the case for war was still valid because of Saddam's totalitarianism and the persistent violation of UNSC resolutions by Iraq's "masters of deception," they argued that "possession of WMD alone was a dangerously narrow basis" on which to advocate war.  The Daily Telegraph asserted the ISG's report "has made a powerful case" for the position Prime Minister Tony Blair wanted to make, "that UN resolutions...had been broken systematically and this could not be tolerated."  Had Blair "couched the matter in broader terms than those set by the UN, he might be in less political difficulty now."  The Kay report, said The Times, "demonstrates that the Security Council should have provided" a mandate for military action based on Iraq's violation of UNSC resolutions.


A belief the war was 'a big swindle' will hurt future efforts to deal with WMD--  The Kay report makes it "increasingly apparent" that the arguments for war were "at best, misleading, and at worst, outright dishonest."  In the future, "the world will remember the case of Iraq" the next time the U.S. argues that rogue nations pose a danger.  The "flimsiness" of some of the WMD claims "has helped to make a legitimate conflict seem otherwise," said Britain's independent Economist.  It also risks making the danger posed by WMD seem "less real than it is, and may jeopardize future efforts to deal with that danger, especially...preemptively."  Arguments that toppling a brutal dictator justified going to war are dangerous, Mexico's independent Reforma averred:  "The legal and moral consequences of maintaining that great powers have the right to overthrow bad leaders are frightening." 

EDITOR:  Steven Wangsness

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 33 reports from 16 countries, October 1-7, 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "A Tribute To Weapons Inspectors"


Isabel Hilton wrote in the left-of-center Guardian (Internet version, 10/7):  "Even before Robin Cook's revelations that Tony Blair went to war without believing in the threat from Saddam's phantom arsenal, the air had been leaking out of the inflated official claims....  Seven months on from the attack on Iraq, it is time to stop and pay tribute to the system that the U.S. administration so energetically derided, determined as it was to apply military solutions to a political problem: the UN weapons inspections process.  Nothing has been discovered in Iraq that was not known to exist as a result of the inspections.  With breathtaking disingenuousness, Blair and Bush now deny that they ever gave the impression that Iraq was close to possessing nuclear weapons or the means of delivering them.  The weapons for which we went to war, in the most recent versions, were chemical and biological.  Now, even they have dematerialized--from actual weapons to a sinister but insubstantial potential.  But Iraq's potential to make chemical weapons was known to the UN as a result of its Unscom inspections in the mid-90s....   Neither Bush nor Blair have produced evidence that turns these unpleasant but familiar facts into a 'current' threat against the U.S., the UK or even Iraq's immediate neighbors.  The question, as the UN inspectors knew, was not whether Iraq maintained a capacity to resume production of such weapons, but whether that potential had been activated after British and U.S. bombing ended the inspections in 1998.  The resumption of UN inspections--under the U.S. administration's credible threat of the use of force--would have answered that question.


"The cost of this adventure can be counted in many ways: there is the damage to future potential for international action against rogue states; the risk of terrorism is heightened; and the possibility of disaffected personnel from Iraq's weapons programs throwing in their lot with some kind of jihad is higher than before.  Equally dangerous is the manner in which a system of internationally sanctioned monitoring and control has been sacrificed in favor of unilateral action.  If we have learned anything from this adventure, it is that weapons inspection--slow, unglamorous and difficult--is effective, even in a regime intent on concealment....  By the beginning of this year, U.S. pressure through the UN had succeeded in forcing the resumption of inspections.  We will probably never know what they might have found.  But the next dictator who tries to transform himself from a local thug into an international menace by acquiring WMD will have less to fear from the difficult, patient and methodical inspections that the UN inspections teams pursued.  Bush and Blair have seen to that."


"Bush Must Apologize To Hans Blix"


The center-left tabloid Daily Mirror editorialized (10/6):  "President Bush wanted to get on with his war, so he sneered at the UN team, implying they were too useless to find them.  Yet now 1,400 searchers with the freedom to look where they want have also found nothing....  It said the only threat was in Saddam's head and he couldn't have organized anything for 10 years.  That is not the basis for going to war.  Hans Blix deserves an apology from President Bush."


"No Uranium, No Munitions, No Missiles, No Programs"


Dr. Glen Rangwala wrote in the center-left Independent on Sunday (10/5):  "Last week's progress report by American and British weapons inspectors in Iraq has failed to supply evidence for the vast majority of the claims made on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction by their governments before the war....  The ISG even casts serious doubt on President Bush's much-trumpeted claim that U.S. forces had found three mobile biological laboratories after the war:  'technical limitations' would prevent the trailers from being ideally suited to biological weapons production, it records. In other words, they were for something else....  One sentence within the report has been much quoted: Iraq had 'a clandestine network of laboratories and safe houses within the Iraqi intelligence service that contained equipment subject to UN monitoring and suitable for continuing CBW research..'  Note what that sentence does not say: these facilities were suitable for chemical and biological weapons research (as almost any modern lab would be), not that they had engaged in such research.  The reference to UN monitoring is also spurious: under the terms of UN resolutions, all of Iraq's chemical and biological facilities are subject to monitoring.  So all this tells us is that Iraq had modern laboratories."


"A Wilderness Of Mirrors"


Phillip Knightley commented in the center-left Independent on Sunday (10/5):  "Poor old James Bond has had a terrible thrashing this week.  First the former British ambassador Sir Peter Heap accused Bond and his colleagues in the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) of being useless spies who frequently made things up.  Then the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) reported that it could find no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, thus underlining a fundamental failure of intelligence and removing at a stroke Britain's justification for going to war....  Iraq, far from being unusual, is merely another item in a long list of intelligence failures, not just British ones but American and Soviet ones as well....  The problem is a flaw at the heart of intelligence gathering which is difficult to eliminate....  Agents selling information are not the most reliable sources.  Money tempts them to exaggerate, inflate the importance of their contacts, copy information from obscure journals that their controller is unlikely to have seen, and even make things up....   British spymasters are well aware that an agent's information could be dodgy and there are procedures to catch it before it makes its way too far up the consumer chain....  But then spymasters are human and attuned to the mood of the politicians who pay their salaries. If SIS and the JIC were aware that the Government was determined to invade Iraq but needed to make a case for war to get the British public on side, then wishful thinking may have led them to believe the 45-minute claim and the existence of weapons of mass destruction.  So if it were a case of: decision to go to war and then intelligence to support that decision--and it certainly looks that way--the British intelligence community is dangerously compromised, in the pocket of the Government, politicized and no longer objective."


"Wielders Of Mass Deception?"


The weekly Economist editorialized (10/4):  "The road to war with Iraq was paved with arguments, good and bad....  George Bush and Tony Blair, it now appears, exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.  This is not just a negligible footnote in the history of Iraq's conquest and reconstruction....  In the eyes of the world, especially the Arab world, the flimsiness of some of the claims made about Mr. Hussein's arsenal has helped to make a legitimate conflict seem otherwise.  It also risks making the danger posed by WMD seem more rhetorical and less real than it is, and may jeopardize future efforts to deal with that danger, especially any that involve acting preemptively.  Ultimately, weaknesses in the Anglo-American case risk damaging the limited trust that Britons and Americans place in their leaders....  Even if some WMD are found, many of the specific Anglo-American claims seem unlikely to be vindicated....  The war, we still think, was justified.  But in making the case for it, Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair did not play straight with their people."


"The Case For War"


The conservative Daily Telegraph editorialized (10/3):  "Opponents of the war on Saddam Hussein are cock-a-hoop that, in the months since liberation, the inter-allied Iraq Survey Group (ISG) has not yet discovered weapons of mass destruction.  As far as they are concerned, this invalidates the main reason for sending troops into harm's way.  But are the ISG's findings the last word on the matter?...  As John Bolton, the U.S. Under Secretary of State, noted in his recent congressional testimony, there is a serious case for the contention that WMD were secreted by the Ba'athists into the neighboring rogue state of Syria....   Above all, Iraq is a large country and the Ba'athists...were masters of deception....  The survey confirms that Iraq was in violation of UN resolutions on its WMD programs.  Are the opponents of the war seriously suggesting that Saddam should have been allowed to fulfill what was, at minimum, a desire to acquire such weapons?...  But what can be said is that possession of WMD alone was a dangerously narrow basis on which to advocate the case for war....  The weapons that such regimes possessed, and that they might have passed to suicidal sub-state forces, were mere symptoms of their totalitarian nature.  WMD added much to their subversive muscle, but were not the be-all and end-all of the threat posed.  Had Tony Blair couched the matter in broader terms than those set by the UN, he might be in less political difficulty now. "


"The Disarming Facts"


The left-of-center Guardian had this view (10/3):  "The interim report of the U.S.-British Iraq Survey Group confirms what many have come to suspect in the months since Baghdad fell.  In sum, Saddam Hussein's regime did not possess useable biological, chemical or nuclear weapons when the war was launched.  Iraq could not therefore accurately be said to pose a current or serious or imminent threat to its neighbors and the west, at least in terms of WMD, as the U.S. and Britain claimed.  Less expected, perhaps, is the strong probability, on the basis of these preliminary findings, that such proven Iraqi WMD capability as did exist was largely destroyed in 1991, as Saddam maintained....  The ISG report does relate persuasive evidence that Iraq was trying clandestinely to retain the ability to produce proscribed weapons, particularly biological weapons....  There is also limited confirmation that after 2000, Saddam had begun trying, without much success, to develop longer-range missiles.  But that said, the main thrust of the report amounts to a damning, official indictment of the principal intelligence and therefore of the political judgments upon which the case for war, in Britain at least, was based....   There are no caches of anthrax, ricin mustard gas, VX and the other horrors of which we were repeatedly warned; there are no mobile laboratories, as George Bush prematurely claimed.....  Here is not the familiar picture of a rogue state bristling with offensive terror weapons, as painted by the government.  Here instead is a picture of a malign regime whose aggression and arms ambitions had in fact been very effectively restrained, curbed and contained over the preceding years.  In any dispassionate analysis, Iraq in March 2003 was not a serious threat in terms of WMD.  Iraq had already been disarmed."


"Questions To Answer For Our Intelligence Services"


Edinburgh's conservative daily The Scotsman commented (Internet version, 10/3):  "The failure to find concrete evidence on any scale of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq raises two questions.  One, of course, is whether this undermines the justification for the war.  Many, including this newspaper, saw (and still do see) the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s evil regime as necessary, less because of any imminent threat from WMD and more as a prerequisite for a building a stable Middle East.  Nevertheless, Saddam’s search for a WMD capability was clearly an element in the decision to go to war.  The lack of an Iraqi WMD capability therefore raises a second and more ominous issue that is in danger of being overlooked.  Namely, the catastrophic failure of the allied intelligence services.  This is a crucial question, because if we cannot obtain reliable intelligence about potential security threats, then no government can make an informed choice regarding foreign and defense policy.  Worse, we are blind to any lurking dangers, be they from terrorists or rogue states.  And the evidence, not just from Iraq, is that the Western intelligence services are ineffective, if not downright incompetent....   When senior intelligence officers become more concerned with high politics and their role in government than in security matters or calm, focused intelligence evaluation, then the way is open to telling governments what they want to hear, rather than the truth.  This seems to be a disease that affects Britain and America as much as it ever did Saddam Hussein.  The immediate lesson of the missing WMD is that a major reform of the British intelligence services is required.  Not a cosmetic change (though some heads should certainly roll), but a quiet, long-term reform based on on-the-spot traditional spying."


"Seek And Hide"


An editorial in the conservative Times held (10/3):  "It is today clear that the real message of this document is more subtle and significant.  The team led by David Kay has not, it is true, yet managed to unearth the physical manifestations of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).  What has been established, however, is that Saddam Hussein continued to violate UN Security Council resolutions long after inspectors were obliged to leave in 1998....  There is enough in this interim report compiled in a matter of weeks to indicate that those suspicions were valid....  It casts doubt on the fashionable claim that the former dictator in Baghdad represented no threat at all to international peace and order after the 1991 Gulf War or that he managed to fool numerous intelligence agencies into believing that he had that arsenal when he did not....  The wisest approach for the Bush administration would be to intensify the resources allocated to the Iraq Survey Group and redouble the effort to track down Saddam Hussein and his remaining retinue.  These might appear to be different issues but they are complementary.  The ironic outcome for Mr. Blair is that the Iraq Survey Group has made a powerful case for the position against Iraq that he originally wanted to make, namely that UN resolutions, including 1441, had been broken systematically and this could not be tolerated.  The stance taken by France, particularly, and Russia, closed off that option.  The war thus had to be fought in the name of the UN but not with its blessing.  This document demonstrates that the Security Council should have provided such a mandate."


"Deadly Threat"


The right-of-center popular tabloid Sun (10/3):  "The full catalogue of Saddam Hussein's weapons secrets makes frightening reading....  Saddam was plotting to develop horrific chemical and biological weapons, the inspection team's report shows.  He was lying to the United Nations right up to the day the war started....  No one can now doubt that Saddam was a menace that had to be taken out.  We don't expect the far Left or the French will apologize for casting doubts on the perfectly legitimate action taken by Britain and America.  But at least they should all now shut up."


"The Lack Of Weapons Of Mass Destruction Is Evidence Of Historic Failure"


The center-left Independent took this view (10/3):  "Every now and then, something happens that lights up the big picture.  The tableau of history is usually shrouded in gloom, with only a few square inches at a time illuminated by the fizzing sparklers of daily journalism....  The key word here is 'deceitful'.  For despite the best efforts of so many experts, who had free rein to probe wherever and whatever they chose after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the ISG's central message is that they have actually found no weapons of mass destruction and precious little of anything else....  In the absence of real weapons, Saddam's 'deceit' is now the most heinous crime that can be laid against him.  So deceitful was he, we are invited to conclude, that he tricked the best and brightest of the West's intelligence agencies and the politicians who relied on their assessments....  The single most shameful truth to have emerged from post-war the failure of intelligence on a most remarkable scale and the failure of our political leaders, starting with Mr. Blair, to exercise the judgment that was needed before they took us to war." 


"The Weapons Of Mass Deception"


Sir Timothy Garden, visiting professor at the Centre for Defence Studies, King's College London, and a former air marshal, wrote in the centrist tabloid Evening Standard (10/2):  "Why would Saddam Hussein let the world believe he still had a hidden arsenal of weapons of mass destruction if they were all long gone?  This is the question repeated by those in the British and American governments who are finding the absence of any evidence of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons in Iraq increasingly embarrassing....  Certainly the difficulties that he made for the UN inspectors in the years which followed showed that he wanted to maintain his WMD capabilities.  Now it appears he was unsuccessful in this quest.  A combination of persistence by the inspection teams and the years of sanctions appears to have left him with little or no usable capability.  Why then would he not welcome the opportunity to show the world that he was clean?...  Perhaps we should all have taken more notice of page 36 of the WMD dossier.  There is a short essay on 'Iraq's policy of deception.'  Deception can be done in many ways.  In Kosovo, much of the British and U.S. bombing was later found to be against decoys rather than tanks.  In Iraq, it looks as though we may have been tilting at windmills."


FRANCE:  "Fantasy"


Patrick Sabatier editorialized in left-of-center Liberation (10/3):  "Leaving aside the pacifists in principle and the die-hard anti-Americans, the anti-war proponents did not deny the bloody nature of Saddam's dictatorship.  However, they did reject the notion of urgency in doing away with Saddam's arsenal at the expense of a war, the political and human cost of which was impossible to predict.  Saddam's untraceable arsenal shows the extent to which Bush's 'preventive war' is dangerous and unacceptable....  In the Iraqi affair, the truth is that Bush and Blair either deliberately lied to justify the war by exaggerating the threat, or they committed an enormous error in judgment based on partial, biased or complete false information.  Either of these explanations makes one shudder.  The world is faced with other dictatorships whose threats to use weapons of mass destruction are much more real than Saddam's arsenal ever was.  The Iraqi precedent will make it much more difficult to face these strategic challenges."


GERMANY:  "An Avalanche Of Doubt Is Heading Towards Bush"


Stefan Kornelius commented in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (10/5):  “On the other hand, the Kay report contains an important lesson: each piece of information by intelligence services must be interpreted politically.  This is what happened in America, but with manipulative intentions....  Another alarming hidden fact, which the report has not explicitly spelled out, is: if material is forged and manipulated in such a way, why does no one protest?  Why have the checks not worked?  Why don’t the intelligence agencies object more?  Where is the opposition?  The alarmist tones of the Bush faction, the shrill invocation of mostly intangible dangers, the complete denial of complicated problems (like the post-war order in Iraq)--all this has nurtured doubts whether the U.S. still has an emergency brake usually built into sensible political systems.”


"U.S. Weapons Report Confirms The War Opponents"


Roland Heine observed in the left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (10/4):  "The fruitless search for Iraqi weapons of mass increasingly creating difficulties for the Bush government in the approaching American election campaign.  Internationally, the report by U.S. chief inspector David Kay strengthens the position of those countries that demand that Washington change its course and call for a central role for the UN in Iraq....  With the Kay report, American weapons searchers now confirm what war opponents had repeatedly stated: possible threats by the Saddam regime could have continued to be averted using UN weapons inspectors.  Obviously, the UN inspections of the past were successful and could in fact have guaranteed Iraq's disarmament.  Naturally it cannot be expected that the Bush government will ever concede this fact.  But it is important for the future role of the United Nations in Iraq if UN Secretary General Kofi Annan can refer to it.  It is clear that the ongoing confrontation in the Security Council is a key moment for the world organization....  A change of position by Washington must also be demanded in view of the planned international donors' conference.  There is no doubt that the Iraqi people need international assistance.  It would also be wrong for the war opponents to merely refer to the United States and its responsibility as the occupation power.  But before assistance is promised in larger amounts than so far, it must be guaranteed that this aid does not serve primarily to economically support the American occupation.  So far, there is no indication that Washington is willing to give up control over the Iraq assistance fund.  The United States justified the war against Iraq with the lie of weapons of mass destruction.  The world community must not support the occupation regime that resulted from this war."


"Packed Up"


Jochen Bittner wrote in Hamburg' centrist weekly Die Zeit (10/2):  "The White House has done something unusual.  It has played down reports on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  Even before David Kay, the chief of the 1,400 men who are looking for weapons, presented his interim report to the U.S. Congress, the CIA had dampened the expectations....  What Kay brings home is circumstantial evidence that at best indicates Saddam Hussein's ill will: documents, files, and pictures that could permit the conclusion that the regime might have planned to...possibly and in case of need....  You know.  What has actually become of all the Iraqi defectors, dissidents, ex-generals, and other opponents of Saddam Hussein with whose frightening insider information the CIA and the MI-6 filled their Iraq dossiers before the beginning of the war?  They all have been strangely silent since the overthrow of the dictator....  The most likely explanation is that...they sold rumors as dangers before the war, rumors that Washington and London offered later as certainties to the rest of the world.  Even though George Bush rightly points out that the world is a nicer place without Saddam Hussein; even though Tony Blair therefore believes that Britain 'as a country' does 'not have to apologize for anything'--both started a war with such poor evidence that would not be enough for an ordinary court to only sentence a parking offender.  It is certain that in the case of Saddam Hussein it was never a matter of whether he had owned weapons of mass destruction, but of whether and when he had destroyed them.  That may have been a long time ago.  Meanwhile, one can almost hope that the search parties will not find anything now.  This would confirm every day the image of Saddam Hussein as a great braggart who did not dare to disclose that in reality he no longer had any poison gas and virus bombs hidden."


"Silence Of Iraqi Defectors"


Jochen Bittner opined in an editorial in center-left, weekly Die Zeit of Hamburg (10/1):  "What has happened to all the Iraqi defectors, dissidents, ex-generals, and Saddam opponents, whose frightening insider information filled CIA and MI6 dossiers before the war?  Since the dictator's ouster, they have become conspicuously silent, even though they...could now reveal everything they know....  The most likely explanation is that they do not do this, because they sold rumors as dangers before the war, rumors that the governments in London and Washington later presented to the rest of the world as certainties....  But even if President Bush rightfully points to the fact that the world is a nicer place without Saddam Hussein, even if Tony Blair thinks that Great Britain does not have to apologize for anything, both leaders began a war with flimsy evidence....  It is certainly true that in the case of Saddam Hussein the question has never been whether he owned WMD, but only whether and when he destroyed them."


RUSSIA:  "Iraq Didn't Have WMD"


Nikolai Paklin filed from Paris for official government Rossiyskaya Gazeta (10/2):  "U.S. intelligence has had to admit that by the time the United States and Britain started armed action, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq....   The real reason for the war was to overthrow an unwanted regime that was in the way and take control over that region and its oil resources."


AUSTRIA:  "Insult To Intelligence"


Foreign affairs editor Gudrun Harrer commented in liberal daily Der Standard (10/4):  “The report on WMD in Iraq by David Kay is an insult the intelligence of anybody capable of reading.  After having spent three months looking for weapons, instead of presenting his findings in a scientifically sober, clear style, he continues the ideological interpretation of facts, which the world had to suffer ad nauseam for months before the war in Iraq.  He reiterates platitudes, wildly combines dangerous-sounding keywords with 'could,' 'maybe,' and 'suitable for,' and thus gives his Lord and Master, President George Bush, the chance of quoting those selected tidbits out of context, which will support his own position....  The long-term international consequences of all this are also dangerous.  Even though a reasonable person must admit that something to do with WMD might still turn up in Iraq--although, whatever it will be, it probably will be irrelevant from a military point of view, but this question was never permitted, anyway--for a large part of the world’s population...the war in Iraq today must look like a big swindle.  In future, if the U.S. make statements against countries that do not toe its political line, the world will remember the case of Iraq.”


GREECE:  "Fairy Tales"


The lead editorial in large circulation, left-of-center pro-GoG, Ta Nea stated (10/3):  “The USG and the CIA are now promoting the incredible excuse that the war on Iraq that...plunged the country into chaos and multiplied Muslim-Western hatred was made because Saddam Hussein pretended to have WMD!…  Attempting to calm reactions caused by the war even inside the U.S., the USG is fabricating excuses about so-called Saddam Hussein bluffs.  This fairy tale simply confirms that the war was not meant to save humanity from Iraq’s WMD; it was mandated by U.S. political and economic interests.”


IRELAND:  "Bush Must Face Reality"


The center-left Irish Independent took this view (10/4):  “What is so depressing is that it was Mr. Bush's own team led by CIA adviser David Kay that reported that it had found no biological or chemical weapons in Iraq.  When presented with the inconvenient facts Mr. Bush fell back on the old political stunt of answering the one question he wasn't asked: ‘I can't think of any people who think that the world would be a safe place with Saddam Hussein in power,’ Mr. Bush said lamely.  Of course it is good that a barbarous dictator was dethroned; but the postwar country is in turmoil, and who could argue that the world is any safer?  The price of America's unilateral war has undermined the integrity of the UN and fractured cherished international alliances.  The Bush presidency brazenly refuses to acknowledge the huge cost of its historic failure and the folly of giving the Pentagon free rein.  But the American people are beginning to see through the charade.”


NETHERLANDS:  "Iraq Might Have Been Hiding Its Weakness, Not Its Strength"


Defense specialist Arnout Brouwers held in influential liberal De Volkskrant (10/3):  "The fact that no weapons of mass destruction have been found might indicate that Saddam was fooling everybody.  The fact that no WMD have been found feeds suspicion that Iraq was hiding its weakness and not its strength....  It is well possible that Saddam Hussein came to the conclusion that he could only remain a leader by pretending he had such weapons.  But even that is speculation.  However, one thing is certain and that is that under Saddam's regime, Iraq did develop and use weapons of mass destruction and did ignore UN resolutions until the end....  In retrospect one would almost forget that there were good arguments NOT to give Saddam Hussein the benefit of the doubt.  Given UN resolution 1441, we can say that all parties agreed on this before the war."




LEBANON:  "...But He Knows More"


Sahar Baasiri remarked in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (10/4):  “Following the report by chief weapons inspector David Kay which asserted that there are no WMD in Iraq, we ask: how did President Bush conclude from the same report that Saddam was considered dangerous to the world?  There is no doubt that Saddam was dangerous; however, to conclude that he was dangerous after reading the Kay report is really ridiculous.  Kay went to Iraq as the head a team of 1400 inspectors on a clear mission, i.e., to find the reason for the war on Iraq that was launched by President Bush and Prime Minister Blair.  However, instead of finding WMD, the report added to the scandals that are already surrounding the Bush administration and Blair’s government.  Other than saying that he did not find weapons of mass destruction, the report...reinforces the theory believing that Bush, Blair and their teams made up justifications and reasons in order to launch a war on Iraq.”




AUSTRALIA:  "Saddam The First Of Several Challenges Facing World"


Tony Parkinson, international editor for the liberal Age, wrote (10/4):  “The war in Iraq has sent a blunt message to other nations known to play fast and loose with the protocols governing weapons proliferation. But the coming weeks will be just as critical in signaling whether, and how, the international system can find ways other than direct military intervention to stop the spread of WMD....  The invasion of Iraq cannot be, and should not be, the template for all future action.  Yet doing little or nothing, for fear of inflaming a crisis, also carries incalculable risks.  The likes of Syria and Libya will be watching to see who blinks first.  If North Korea and Iran prevail in this stand-off, non-proliferation will be officially dead as an instrument of global security.”




INDIA:  "A False Victory"


An editorial in the nationalist Hindustan Times read (10/4):  "It's now official: there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq....  It follows, therefore, that the scary scenario presented by Washington and London about the Saddam Hussein regime being an imminent threat to the world was a false one....  The corollary to these questions is whether the intelligence agencies wrote what their masters wanted to read or whether they misread the signals emanating from Iraq....  If the U.S. had the patience to wait for the UN weapons inspectors led by Hans Blix to complete their investigation, there would have been no war....  The U.S. would have been able to concentrate more on eliminating al-Qaida and the Taliban from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and help Hamid Karzai to move towards establishing democracy in Afghanistan with greater speed....  Instead, what the war has achieved is to arouse anti-American sentiments to fever pitch all over the Muslim world, enabling al-Qaida to recruit more terrorists.  Nor has the war led to improved conditions in Iraq, where Hussein still has the capacity to persist with resisting the American 'occupation'.  Launched under false premises, the war cannot even be said to have been won."


BANGLADESH:  "No WMD Found In Iraq"


The independent English-language Daily Star editorialized (10/6):  "The initial report of U.S. chief weapons inspector, David Key, that his team has to date found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is bad news for President Bush.  It is bad news because it is becoming increasingly apparent that his arguments justifying a rush to war were, at best, misleading, and at worst, outright dishonest.  In any case, the issue here is not whether or not Saddam had a history of developing and using WMD or whether the Iraqi people are better off without him.  The issue is whether it is acceptable to mislead the public into war.  It is possible that Bush did believe that Saddam should be removed from power due to his appalling human rights record and due to his history of developing and using WMD, but that is not what he told the world and that is not why he went to war.  The justification he gave to the world for war was that Saddam possessed active WMD programs that posed an imminent threat to world security.  Mr. Kay’s initial report strongly suggests that Saddam’s WMD capability posed no imminent threat to world security and that President Bush is thus guilty of seriously misrepresenting the case for war."


"Where Are WMD?"


Pro-opposition Bangla language newspaper Bhorer Kagoj judged (10/6):  "The CIA report...found some evidence regarding Iraq’s attempt for building weapons of mass destruction, but this evidence has nothing to do with the claims made by Bush and Blair....  In fact, the popularity and credibility of both Bush and Blair have undergone a landslide.  After the CIA report, the situation may become more dramatic.  The people of the world will keep a watch how Bush and Blair save their faces."


"There Are No WMD!"


The independent English language New Age commented (10/4):  "The difficulties, now that the Kay findings are out, can only grow for President Bush and Prime Minister Blair.  But do not expect that there is any possibility of the two men saying any time soon that they were wrong about Iraq and its WMD and that therefore they were wrong to go to war against Iraq on the issue.  What the Americans and the British have systematically been doing since the conquest of Iraq has been to move the goal posts in order to suit their requirements....  Far bigger issues are now likely to be raised by the global community.  Now that it is clear that the whole Iraqi adventure was based on the duplicity of politicians and bureaucrats operating in London and Washington, the question of the extent to which international law and human rights were violated through the invasion and occupation of Iraq needs to be looked into.  It is not enough for Bush and Blair to keep harping on the tune of Saddam being a vile man who needed to be put out of power (there are other vile men nearly everywhere).  It is for them to deal with the question of the degree to which their actions have created some very real difficulties for societies around the world."


SRI LANKA:  "More Arms Than Proof"


Independent Tamil-language Thinakural commented (10/3):  "Bush and British Premier Tony Blair, who justified Iraq's invasion [with WMD claims], have failed to find even a single weapon to show the world, although six months have passed....  The U.S. attacked not because of Iraq's WMD, but because of the stockpile of weapons in U.S. possession.  The world should not forget that America has more weapons in its possession than proofs that justify their action."




KENYA:  "Kenya To Clean Up After Bush And Blair"


The independent East African Standard judged (Internet version, 10/5):  "Kenyan soldiers have no business cleaning up the mess created by America and Britain in Iraq....  The chaos and anarchy in Iraq is a result of the failure of American diplomacy under Bush and of his so-called doctrine of pre-emption....  Indeed, as was evident last week, the justification for this war by Washington and London is still wanting.  Witness these statements from Mr. David Kay, President George Bush's pointman in the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq by the so-called Iraq Survey Group (ISG):  One.  'At this point in time we have not found weapons of mass destruction.'  Two.  'It is clear that Saddam Hussein had the intent to continue production at some point in future of weapons of mass destruction.'...  In other words, the ISG has not turned up a single weapon of mass destruction, the very reason, indeed the justification for the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq early this year.  What Kay, himself a former UN arms inspector, and his 1,200-strong team have come up with is a litany of what may have been, what could be and what to expect.  But the ISG has not found the smoking gun that proves Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and, therefore, that Washington and London were justified to not only invade and occupy the country, but also defy and ignore the UN Security Council in the process....  London and Washington need to produce chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and factories for making them and not paper work showing designs and research into WMD....  What was the hurry in waging war in the first place?  Now Bush wants more money and more people to search for weapons, but he was not willing to increase the UN inspectors before the war.  London and Washington may yet find WMD in Iraq, but it will be interesting to know where they were manufactured."




BRAZIL:  "Bush's Rendition"


Liberal Folha de S. Paulo editorialized (10/4):  "At least in politics, the rendition is more important than the fact.  This aphorism explains George W. Bush's obstinacy in seeking to negate the evidence produced by his own officials in Iraq and in insisting on saying that Saddam Hussein represented 'a risk to the world'....  Bush made his statement amid a string of bad news for the president.  Daily ambushes in Iraq have cost the lives of three to six U.S. troops every week, at the astronomical price of $1 billion per week....  The result is increasing dissatisfaction on the part of the U.S. public....  Electoral polls conducted 13 months before the elections have only relative importance.  They serve, however, to indicate that the president is facing serious problems and that his re-election will not be as easy as was believed in the past."


"Difficulties Are Cornering Bush"


Business-oriented Valor Economico commented (10/3):  "Bad news coming in from everywhere has flooded the White House in recent days....  History will show that the USG's alleged national security concerns may be as false or exaggerated as were the accusations about WMD in the possession of Saddam....  It is probable that information may have been manipulated to justify decisions taken months before."


MEXICO:  "Justification"


Sergio Sarmiento held in independent Reforma (10/6):  "Time has demonstrated that the Saddam regime did not have weapons of mass destruction.  Saddam did not use them, and despite U.S. troops’ control over Iraqi territory, they have found no trace of the WMD....  Therefore, the U.S. and British governments are trying to present another reason to justify their invasion of Iraq--freeing the Iraqi people from a dictator....  But this is a dangerous path....  The legal and moral consequences of maintaining that great powers have the right to overthrow bad leaders are frightening."


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