International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

June 3, 2003

June 3, 2003




**  Papers reveal a widespread belief that U.S., UK "lied" about the threat posed by Iraqi WMD.


**  Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz remarks have "pulled the plug" on Washington's credibility.


**  Blair faces "the gravest accusation" amid calls for an inquiry.



The liberation of Iraq is 'no excuse' for 'a war policy based on lies'--  Though dailies agreed that the overthrow of Saddam was a "veritable blessing" for Iraq's "downtrodden people," there was growing concern that the U.S. had at the very least "manipulated" intelligence on Iraqi WMD to produce a "phantom threat."  Austria's liberal Der Standard wondered if pre-war U.S. claims about Iraqi WMD capabilities were "a miscalculation based on real worry or...a conscious act of deceit."  Worldwide, other papers had no doubt that U.S. assertions about Iraqi WMD were "one of the biggest state lies in years."  A "whirlwind of revelations and admissions about manufactured evidence and distortions of the truth" convinced editorial writers that the "real reason" for the war was to change the Iraqi regime and provide the opportunity "for the U.S. to withdraw its troops from Saudi Arabia."


'Who will believe the Bush administration any longer?'--  Writers seized on Defense Deputy Secretary Wolfwowitz's remarks calling Iraq's WMD "of secondary importance" as a casus belli to assert the U.S. "wilfully exaggerated the threat of weapons of mass destruction" to rally support for the war.  The growing perception that the Coalition partners "conspired to cry wolf" about Iraq's weapons, the Australian Financial Review said, will compromise their national security "by heightening cynicism about the credibility of political leaders in a real emergency."  An Arab daily contended that "the failure of truth" will hurt the U.S. and UK "when they ask the Arab world to trust them in their efforts to rebuild Iraq or to find peace in Israel."  Writers in Britain, Germany and Australia called for an "independent assessment" of the WMD case against Iraq, adding this "would prove far more reassuring" to the world than expanding the U.S.-led search.  Echoing a common view, an Indonesian editorialist noted that the U.S. is now "using the same old song" about WMD and ties to al-Qaida about the regime in Iran. 


Accused of 'duping' the public, Blair pays 'the wages of spin'--  Though the conservative Times termed calls for a public inquiry into PM Blair's assertions about Iraq's WMD "premature" and cautioned that Rumsfeld's recent remarks on the subject had been "overinterpreted," British papers across the ideological spectrum agreed that Blair was facing "serious" charges of having misled Parliament and the public about the Iraqi threat.  Writing in the conservative Sunday Telegraph, veteran war correspondent Max Hastings, who "reluctantly" supported the war and accepted "public and private Whitehall assurances" about WMD in Iraq, concluded that Blair "sacrificed British lives on the basis of a deceit, and it stinks."  The left-of-center Independent stated that it is "increasingly clear that the case for war rested on speculative exaggeration."  Commenting on the BBC, one observer judged: "If it is ever shown that Mr. Blair deliberately massaged the facts, then his premiership will almost certainly be over." 

EDITOR:  Steven Wangsness

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 83 reports from 35 countries, May 26-June 3, 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "The Inquiry We Need"


The center-left Guardian judged (6/3):  "In the U.S., two senate committees have now called joint hearings on whether the Bush administration misused intelligence information to make its case for an attack on Iraq.  In Britain, meanwhile, there is still nothing but stonewalling.  Here, ministers continue to set themselves against calls for inquiry and to insult those who make them.  This is both wrong and a foolish position to adopt.  An inquiry is justified, and the pressure for one is mounting, led by Robin Cook.  The focus of the inquiry should be the quality of the intelligence available to ministers in the period leading up to the Iraq war, and the use that was made of it.  But it is important not to rule out issues that might be raised by this central theme, including the effect on British diplomacy and the implications for the government's legal position on the war.  What is needed is an independent inquiry, with broad terms of reference similar to Franks [inquiry into the Falklands war] and which aims to report within months rather than years."


"Firing Blanks: Calls For Inquiries Over WMD Are Premature"


The conservative Times argued (6/3):  "It is important to distinguish between the charges being aimed at Downing Street.  The most doubtful of them is the most serious.  There is overwhelming reason to believe that Saddam Hussein sought to acquire weapons of mass destruction and that he had developed an infrastructure to advance that aim, not least through the recruitment and training of scientists.  The conspiratorial notion that Mr Blair and others actively invented or warped official intelligence to make the case for war is more presumed than proved.  The broad outlines of what appeared in the dossiers published here fit with the assessment made by other European intelligence agencies.  The last claim, that of 'spin' has more weight, not least because Downing Street has what the police would describe as past form on this matter.  If, once a comprehensive search is completed, that claim proves fundamentally flawed [that Saddam Hussein had WMD], which is unlikely, then an official inquiry into what occurred before military action would make sense.  Until then, a period of common sense would be appropriate."


"We Were Duped Into War--Even The Americans Admit It"


The left of center Independent stated (6/2):  "The Prime Minister will forgive us if this time we do not take at face value his categorical assurance that evidence of Iraq's WMD will be found.  Especially as members of the Bush administration have now admitted that the weapons were a pretext....  Donald Rumsfeld, the American defense secretary, and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, have made it clear that Saddam's possession of these weapons was of secondary importance.  Mr. Rumsfeld said it was possible they were destroyed before the conflict began, while Mr. Wolfowitz said the weapons case was 'settled on' for bureaucratic reasons as 'the one issue that everyone could agree on....  If U.S. troops find evidence of such a threat, that would offer a remarkable retrospective justification of Mr. Blair's war, but the Americans clearly do not expect to find it.  It is becoming increasingly obvious that the case for war rested on speculative exaggeration."


"No, Mr. Blair, You Won't Get Away With It"


Andreas Whittam Smith wrote in the left of center Independent (6/2):  "In my lifetime, no British Prime Minister has faced charges as serious as those that are now levelled at Tony Blair.  In the absence of discoveries of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, a growing number of us are becoming at once ashamed and angry: ashamed that increasingly the evidence suggests that the Prime Minister misled the House of Commons in making the case for war; angry that it may turn out that 32 British soldiers were sent to a needless death hunting for something that didn't in fact exist....  Mr. Blair's ministerial colleagues...have undermined [his] veracity....  While nothing compares with the anguish suffered by the families and friends of those members of the British forces who lost their lives in Iraq, we shall all share in the shame if it turns out that the Prime Minister was wrong about the weapons of mass destruction."


"The Wages of Spin"


The conservative Daily Telegraph held (6/2) (Internet version):  "It is about the gravest accusation that can be made in politics. Tony Blair stands charged, in effect, with committing British troops on the basis of a lie....  At the very least, Mr. Blair seems to have dealt shabbily with the security forces....  Mr. Blair had good reasons to be worried about the menace posed by Saddam; but his obsession with presentation has gravely damaged that case.  Even if our forces were now to unearth evidence of a major chemical or biological weapons programme in Iraq, many people in this country--let alone in the Arab world--would assume it had been planted.  Such are the wages of spin....  The issue on which this is likely to catch him up, however, is not Iraq, but Europe. While two thirds of voters believe that Mr. Blair deceived them about weapons, they do not seem especially cross; the same polls show strong support for the war."


"Prove It, Tony"


The tabloid Daily Mirror editorialized (6/2) (Internet version):  "Tony Blair stays calm and collected under almost any provocation.  So it was a rare moment when he lost his cool yesterday.  The criticism over the dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction is obviously getting to him.  There is no point in him becoming angry, though, and blaming those who question him.  He made the case for war.   It is up to him to produce the evidence to support it."


"All At Stake In Weapons Row"


Nick Assinder commented on the BBC (6/1) (Internet version):  "The charges currently being levelled against Tony Blair over the war on Iraq could not be more serious.  And they boil down to a single question--did the government deliberately spin Britain into the conflict?...  If there is any proof that was the case then the prime minister, along with several of his ministers, has committed the greatest of all parliamentary sins--that of misleading the House of Commons....  Parliament's legitimacy derives for the fact that 'honourable members' are precisely that--honourable and truthful....  For that reason, anyone found to have deliberately misled parliament has only one option--resignation.  And that is precisely what the prime minister is now being accused of by the likes of Clare Short....  Before the war, even the prime minister's harshest critics probably had to accept that he believed wholeheartedly in what he was doing.  Similarly many--if by no means all--believed that Saddam really did have the sort of weapon's capability Mr Blair and President Bush kept insisting he had.  If it is ever shown that Mr Blair deliberately massaged the facts then his premiership will almost certainly be over.


"But the rebels also face the danger of having their own credibility destroyed if the promised dossier on Saddam's weapons program backs the prime minister's case.  The risk for them is that they may have spoken too soon. It is certainly the case that the prime minister appears as confident as ever that he will be vindicated.  If he is, then the critics' will have been neutered and they will find it near impossible to win an audience for their wider claims about the legitimacy of the war.  This is seriously high stakes for all involved and the affair clearly has a long way to run yet."


"Weapons: A Question Of Trust"


The London Observer, Sunday publication of the center-left Guardian, editorialized (6/1) (Internet version):  "Disquiet is increasing on both sides of the Atlantic about one issue in particular.  Almost two months after hostilities ended, there is no significant trace of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction....  The Prime Minister continues to have 'absolutely no doubt at all about the existence of weapons of mass destruction'. That as yet unsupported certitude that something will turn up is no longer enough.  Mr. Blair took a Parliament and a country racked by doubt into conflict expressly because Saddam's weapons posed an immediate threat to his neighbours and to the order of the world....  Mr. Blair's mandate for war, we repeat, was granted specifically on his assertion that a threat was so immediate that Hans Blix and his inspectors (who should be sent back to Iraq forthwith) could not be given more time.  Seven weeks after the conflict finished, war has produced fewer results on weapons than Mr. Blix achieved and revealed no vestige of urgent danger.  The growing worry is that Mr. Blair's dossier was, in part at least, a testament to wishful thinking."


"For now, Mr. Blair's credibility is on the line.  He risks creating an irreconcilable gulf with a constituency far beyond a left-wing rump of the Labour Party.  Concern about missing weapons is sincere and widespread, not, as he suggests, merely the carping of disaffected pacifists.  This newspaper backed the Prime Minister in his decision to go to war.  Those in Parliament and the wider public who supported him did so because they believed he had sound reasons for committing the country to conflict.  Now he must justify the faith that we and others placed in him.  Only the full truth can do that."


"I Was Silly To Trust America"


Historian and war correspondent Max Hastings commented in the independent, conservative Sunday Telegraph (6/1) (Internet version):  "Even by the standards of the Bush administration, last week was a remarkable one for diplomatic folly.  Paul Wolfowitz, the Assistant Defence Secretary, disclosed that the U.S. wilfully exaggerated the threat of weapons of mass destruction, to rally support for an Iraq war.  Likewise, Wolfowitz's boss, Donald Rumsfeld, declared that he has little expectation of finding any WMDs.  He then launched a new round of sabre-rattling against Iran.  So much for the gleeful banner under which President Bush greeted a homebound American aircraft-carrier crew: 'Mission accomplished.' 


"The leading lights of the U.S. Defence Department always made it plain that disarming Saddam was a pretext for regime change in Iraq. Yet that pretext was the basis of a massive American diplomatic offensive.  Tony Blair explicitly told the British people that disarming Saddam justified taking Britain to war.  That argument was fraudulent.  Some of us, who accepted public and private Whitehall assurances about WMDs, today feel rather silly....  It is irrelevant that the Allies won the war.  The Prime Minister committed British troops and sacrificed British lives on the basis of a deceit, and it stinks....  I was among those who thought the war mistaken, but reluctantly accepted the arguments for British participation, to preserve the Atlantic alliance and to maintain some marginal influence upon American policy.  Today, given the behaviour of the U.S. administration, that case is in tatters....  It remains vital to engage with Washington.  Even in the face of great difficulties, the diplomatic effort must continue, to restrain American unilateralism.  But a heavy blow has been struck against our faith in American rhetoric and judgment.  The struggle against terrorism, and the management of the world look harder today than they did a week ago, thanks to Washington's frightening surge of unforced errors."


"Why Did We Go To War"


The conservative Daily Telegraph took this view (5/30):  "Tony Blair is facing a credibility crisis over the existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction....  The failure to produce definitive evidence of WMD is scarcely surprising.  What the Pentagon says on this matter is prima facie true:  Saddam might have hidden, destroyed or dispatched his weapons to a safe haven in Syria before or during the war.  There is enough commonsense plausibility in such an assertion for Donald Rumsfeld to seem scarcely embarrassed in uttering it.  But for Mr. Rumsfeld and George Bush, the issue of WMD is of much less urgency than it is for Tony Blair.  Mr. Blair, desperate for the support of his own party, nailed himself firmly to the mast of WMD as his casus belli and allowed his spin machine to exaggerate the danger to Britain.  He may have managed to win a war that was morally justified, only to lose an argument that it was badly conducted."


"Mr. Blair...Has To Justify The War"


The center-left Independent editorialized (5/30):  "The more that becomes known about the reasons, conduct and consequences of the U.S. and British war, the more clouded becomes the picture of a country that we were told had been liberated from tyranny and of a world saved from the imminent threat of lethal weapons.  The glaring gap between intelligence and fact, however, calls the legitimacy of the war into question, tarnishes the victory and damages the credibility of the Prime Minister.  The statement by Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Defense Secretary, that Saddam's weapons were, in effect only a pretext for war, the lowest common denominator 'that everyone could agree on' is, if anything, even worse than the manipulation of intelligence.  The clear inference is that Washington cynically used Mr. Blair (and tried to use the UN) to give diplomatic cover to a U.S. military adventure that had one selfish aim: facilitating a U.S. withdrawal from Saudi Arabia.  If true, that is nothing short of a scandal that will undermine Mr. Blair and poison transatlantic relations for a very long time."


"Using One's Intelligence"


The conservative Times stated (5/30):  "In few conflicts has intelligence played such a crucial role as it did in the run-up to the Iraq war....  The row that has erupted over the failure, more than six weeks after the end of the war, to find weapons of mass destruction has turned on the use and possible misuse of intelligence....  The debate has been sharpened by the overinterpreted statement by Donald Rumsfeld that Saddam may, after all, have destroyed his weapons before the war began.  Accusations that Britain was too influenced by the intelligence coming from Washington do not stand up.  What is even less open to question is that Saddam Hussein possessed the expertise and the intent to produce the weapons of mass destruction that he had deployed in the past.  It would be useful for Downing Street to come clean, but would be a mistake to think that Saddam Hussein was clean."


"Where Are They"


The independent Financial Times editorialized (5/30):  "It is time for a reality check:  we have been deceived.  The U.S./UK occupation of Iraq has done nothing to prove the case for war.  On the contrary, it has undermined, possibly fatally, their casus belli against the Iraqi regime--namely that it was stockpiling chemical and biological, if not nuclear weapons.  So did the U.S. and UK intelligence services get it wrong, or were their political masters lying?  It seems a bit of both.  The intelligence failures in Iraq raise many questions, not least why Saddam Hussein was so unforthcoming to UN inspectors if he had little left to hide.  But there is one overwhelming caution for the Bush administration.  If it ever wants to put its doctrine of preemptive war into practice again, it will need to come up with far more convincing proof of threats than it showed in Iraq."


"Where Have All the Weapons Gone?"


The tabloid Sun published this commentary by Richard Littlejohn (5/30) (Internet version):  "The Not In My Name crowd are wetting themselves with excitement over the admission that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction may never be found....  The admission by U.S. defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld that he didn't know what had happened to Saddam's chemical and biological arms is clearly an embarrassment for Blair.  But it doesn't prove the Not In My Namers were right....  Rumsfeld is a man who can always be relied upon to give a straight answer to the most twisted question.  When faced with the dilemma of where the weapons are, he didn't waffle, he told the truth.  Is it possible they may never be uncovered?  Sure....  In the meantime, while we continue to look for the WMDs, is anyone after seeing those mass graves going to say that the war wasn't justified?"


FRANCE:  "The Things Left Unsaid In Evian"


Bernard Guetta commented on Paris France Inter Radio (6/2):  "Having swallowed down his lunch, George [W.] Bush will leave Evian this afternoon, having just passed through, departing well before the end of this meeting. It is difficult to imagine more cavalier behaviour, but why is George Bush leaving so quickly?  It is not merely to make it clear that the United States defines its international policy alone.  It is also, above all, because the situation continues to grow increasingly complicated in Iraq and it is looking increasingly evident that the White House deliberately lied about the extent, if not the very existence, of stocks of weapons of mass destruction reportedly held by Saddam Hussein."   


"Iraq: The Bush and Blair Manipulation"


Christophe Boltanski contended in left-of-center Liberation (5/30) (Internet version):  "According to the BBC, Britain's intelligence services were forced--at Downing Street's request--to 'rewrite' their report in order to make it 'more alarmist.'...  This revelation is even more embarrassing for Blair insofar as it coincides with extremely awkward statements from across the Atlantic....  Donald Rumsfeld had already cast a chill inside the British government with a declaration that the Iraqis might have destroyed their arsenal before hostilities broke out.  his is a theory that Tony Blair had qualified as 'manifestly absurd' during a crucial debate in the Commons on the even of the hostilities."


"Prime Minister Accused of Manipulation"


Jacques Duplouich reported from London in conservative Le Figaro (5/30) (Internet version):  "Tony Blair must explain himself.  Robin Cook, his former minister of foreign affairs, is inviting him to.  Resorting to force against Iraq, which the prime minister justified at the time by the threat that the arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Saddam Hussein would have hung over the world in general and the United Kingdom in particular, could only have happened as the result of an extraordinary deception, Cook points out....  But, contrary to what Robin Cook expects, Tony Blair is not one to plead guilty.  He 'won' the war and 'liberated' the Iraqi people from the Baath barbarity.  History has been made.  People believed the prime minister was inspired by God.  They are finding him at Machiavelli's.  He will perhaps not come out of this so well.  The press is growling.  The Labor party is, again, getting worked up.  Seventy members of Parliament have signed a motion demanding that Tony Blair support his statements on Saddam's arsenal."


"No Excuse"


France Inter Radio broadcast this commentary (5/30) :  "Can a bad thing lead to a good one? Can the fragile progress in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian issue that we are witnessing today, thanks to the fall of Saddam Hussein excuse the big lie the Americans and the British resorted to in order to justify their intervention in Iraq?...  It is not impossible, but if Donald Rumsfeld is right, if Saddam disarmed because of UN pressure, then there is indisputable proof that the opponents of war, led by France, were right, that the war was not necessary, and that the inspections were sufficient.  The deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, understood this so well that he made adjustments straight away.  In the next issue of Vanity Fair, he explained that the question of disarmament was the only incentive for war on which the entire Bush team could agree but the other objective of the Americans was to be able to withdraw their troops from Saudi Arabia because their presence in a Holy Land of Islam was the main reason for Al-Qaida's terrorist attacks.  On this Paul Wolfowitz is far from the truth.  The first objective of the hawks--they have never hidden the fact--was--that's right--to reshape the Middle East and it is here that the debate starts....  Without this war, would have it been impossible for George Bush to try to impose a resolution on the Israeli-Arab issue, to give guarantees for the security of the Israelis and to support the Saudi proposal for the recognition of Israel by the entire Arab world in exchange for the creation of a Palestinian state?  The answer is that half of the energy released for the war would have made possible the fragile hope--no more no less--which has been renewed today.  America's word would not be called into question for as long as it will be.  Europe would not be in pieces.  The Western bloc would not be devastated but united.  It is true that the USA would not have made the show of strength that wanted but anyway this is an illusion which will not last."


"America’s Admission"


Left-of-center Le Monde editorialized (5/30):  “What we are witnessing is probably one of the biggest state lies in years.  The manipulation campaign was probably conducted with open eyes....  Secretary Rumsfeld’s words are the beginnings of an admission...that the war against Iraq was conducted even if there was some element of knowledge that the WMD no longer existed....  The most probable scenario is that Iraq had already undertaken the destruction of its weapons since November 2002....  The U.S. was in fact bluffing when it published its documented proof....  President Bush and Tony Blair are having a hard time proving that they remain convinced of the ‘existence’ of these weapons....  The war was not launched to destroy these weapons but to change Baghdad’s regime and to begin remodeling the Middle East.  The weapons served only as a pretext.”


GERMANY:  "Adverse Effects"


Erik-Michael Bader noted in an editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (6/3):  "The alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction...are slowly turning into a problem for the government in Washington.  The problem has two ends:  the first is the annoying feeling in the international public to have been taken for a ride....  And this annoyance is probably very obvious in the coalition of the willing, which had trust in the scenario of threat.  Distrust will remain, which will it make more difficult for U.S. politics to get support in a similar case in the future.  At the other end, mainly in the United States, the unnerving question is coming up in what kind of mess U.S. politics could get as a result of a combination of unsatisfactory intelligence work and the frivolous interpretation of intelligence reports, for instance, if a real threat is being minimized to adjust to the political line."


"Distortions, Manipulations"


Centrist Abendzeitung of Munich stated  (6/3):  "If it is right what intelligence services claim, then facts were doctored, distorted and manipulated for the Iraq campaign of the United States.  The problem is not that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator whose end we should not regret, but that the government of the U.S. superpower probably tried to deceive the Americans and the world public.  This will inflict an enormous damage to its credibility."


"War Does Not Know Ambivalence"


Eric Chauvistré stated in an editorial in leftist die tageszeitung of Berlin (6/3):  "If U.S. parliamentarians are now also calling for more information, then this is only a necessary step.  But the basic problem has not been eliminated.  Not only the powers-that-be, but also journalists have been guided by an excessively naïve understanding of intelligence information.  That is why it is all the more dangerous, since the past U.S.-led wars always focused on the defense against a danger that was not yet visible:  looming human rights violations, preparations for terrorist attacks, or the program for the production of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.  Wars were waged by referring to alleged 'facts' and 'truths,' whose plausibility could not be checked by a democratic public.  That is why it is urgently necessary to realize that even the best intelligence service reports cannot produce the absolute truth....  But those who lay claim to waging a war against another country cannot accept any doubts."


"Wolfowitz's View Of The World"


Stefan Kornelius opined in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (5/31):  "Paul Wolfowitz belongs to those contemporaries who do not necessarily lie but who bend the truth...until it fits their truth of the picture of the world....  Now he speaks the real truth when he says that WMD were used as a tool to convince the world of the need to go to war....  But as honest as Wolfowitz is, it will not be that easy for him to steal away from the affair....  The U.S. president now has the choice: His apparatus either lied to him--and then he would be faced with an enormous insubordination of his agency and the president would be a puppet in the hand of a few shady figures, and subordinates like Wolfowitz must be fired, or Bush deliberately lied to America and the world....  Bush is currently traveling Europe, while Washington is now painting another threatening picture with Iran....  Bush, who prides himself of being a member of the club of straight-talkers and who likes to implement what he says, should be reminded of the proverb that links truth and credibility."


"A Lesson"


Arno Widmann judged in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (5/31):  "It was right to bomb Saddam Hussein, who oppressed his people for years, out of office.  It was wrong to use a pretext to do so.  Paul Wolfowitz and his boss have now eliminated this mistake and clarified things.  The U.S. does not give a damn about international law.  It intervenes where it considers this right.  We have no chance of countering this.  This is a lesson Paul Wolfowitz gave us."


"So That's What Behind It"


Dietrich Alexander noted in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (5/31):  "The master in the Pentagon, Rumsfeld, sees himself forced to catch his deputy Wolfowitz....  What he said is a political explosive which will plunge the winners of the Iraq war into a credibility crisis and give the opponents of this war satisfaction to say what they have always known.  Indeed the allies have thus far not found the 'smoking gun' that could undoubtedly legitimize this war.  But is the war against Saddam Hussein's murderous dictatorship unfair because a reason for war cannot be found?  Don't the mass graves of thousands of buried Iraqis, the dungeons, and torture chambers not speak a clear language?"


"Who Will Believe The Bush Administration Any Longer?"


Center-right Neue Ruhr/Neue Rhein-Zeitung of Essen (5/31) editorialized:  "Let us say it in nice words, the duo Bush-Blair manipulated the truth.  This is not rare in politics.  But this time, the entire world must feel deceived....  And again the hawks in the Pentagon are talking about WMD and links to al Qaida.  But this time, it is Iran that is in the crosshairs.  Even if the accusations prove right, who in the world will believe the Bush administration any longer?  But if the U.S. government believes that it can continue to decide unilaterally what is good and what is evil, this will turn into a curse for the superpower."




Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger judged in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (5/30):  "After the end of the war, many things surfaced that illustrated the criminal nature of Saddam Hussein's regime and morally justifies regime change.  But up until today, there has been no evidence of the weapons of mass destruction that were used as a reason for the war.  Nowadays, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says quite frankly, and this takes our breath away, that these weapons could have been destroyed before the war--by Baghdad as the United Nations demanded.  This remark also cuts the ground from under the feet of Britain's PM Blair....  In addition, it weakened the U.S. (or Anglo-Saxon) credibility openly when with Iran, another country is now getting into the cross hairs.  The accusation of misleading the public is obvious.


"Obviously, the Bush administration shied away from carrying its real intention offensively into the center of discussion:  to eliminate the Middle East crisis and violence potential by using U.S. power.  It is likely that not many would have supported the United States in the approach that the path to peace in and for Jerusalem leads via Baghdad.  But the situation would have been clear....  Nobody lets oneself be blinded by a Mideastern mock stability whose deepest characteristics are terrorism, fundamentalism, dictatorship, and violence.  If Washington wants to change this, it should reveal its true interests and not put its partners on, because this undermines both credibility and legitimacy.  And even a superpower cannot do without them."


"Bush Thumbed His Nose At The Rest"


Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg judged (5/30):  "If the suspicion comes true, President Bush and PM Tony Blair will be found guilty of a crime....  Iraq's alleged WMD were also the key argument of the United States and Britain in the controversy over the moral legitimacy and its legitimacy according to international law....  If, in retrospect, this cannot be proven, the political leadership claim, which Bush and Blair have achieved with their victory over Saddam Hussein, would be destroyed.  Instead of relying on dubious pretexts, the U.S government would have been better advised to go on the offensive and try to get support for regime change in Iraq.  There were enough good arguments for an ouster of the dictator….  In this case, there would have been a bitter conflict on a global scale, too.  But a controversy over genuine arguments would have been less detrimental to the U.S. president than the ignominy to have been unmasked as a liar."


"An Outrage"


Right-of-center Fuldaer Zeitung noted (5/30):  "Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's an outrage.  There is no doubt, the war turned out to be not too bad, and Saddam's ouster is a blessing for the downtrodden Iraqi people.  Nevertheless, the end does not justify the means.  A war policy based on lies is at minimum not a petty crime.  And we want to tear our hair out that the global community does not have any means to stop this kind of policy."


ITALY:  "The Gun That Vanished"


Centrist La Stampa commented (6/1) (Internet version):  "There is now widespread controversy....  As for Italy's position, there are those who will recall that, during a press conference early this year, the prime minister had stated there was 'clear evidence' pointing to the existence of weapons of mass destruction.  But that in this connection, he was 'held to secrecy.'....  However, how to justify, now, this ongoing 'secrecy?'  All the more so at a time when Bush and Blair could be accused of having lied to the international community....  Actually, if that evidence were to this day to prove concrete, by disclosing it, the prime minister would be rendering a great service to the truth.  If, by chance, it should prove to be neither serious nor 'clear,' then someone should let him know that he was sold a bum steer, in pure American fashion."


"Now Only The Creation Of A Free Iraq Can Legitimize The Conflict"


Gianni Riotta commented in leading centrist Corriere della Sera (5/30):  "If a country is born that is free from a savage dictatorship, and no longer devoted to wars of invasion but to development, then the conflict will soon have a legitimacy of its own.  If the chaos in Baghdad and the surrounding areas continues, and becomes established, soon the talk will be entirely about weapons that were not found.  History knows how to give legitimacy to the winners, after the event, on the condition that they are able to deserve it, and thus far the allies have been better at war than they have been at peace."


RUSSIA:  "Aborted Triumph"


Reformist Vremya Novostey commented (5/30):  "Tony Blair's visit was meant as a triumph, timed to the 50-day jubilee of the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad and the capture of the capital by U.S. troops.  Blair has beaten his ally George Bush to the punch, being the first Western leader to have set foot on Iraqi soil after the war.  But the Americans ruined his PR action.  Blair's triumphant entrance into Basra was spoiled by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld having stated that weapons of mass destruction might not be found in Iraq."


AUSTRIA:  "Nasty Questions"


Christoph Winder commented in liberal daily Der Standard (6/3):  “For a few days now, the Bush administration has been facing an ironic dilemma.  It achieved a dazzling victory in Iraq, and nobody...doubts that overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s was a veritable blessing for the country.  However, in the meantime Bush has rather painfully mislaid his main reason for the war--the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein was allegedly hoarding....  The central question now is who is to blame for the WMD flop: the politicians, who wanted this war at any cost, or the secret services, who fed them incorrect material?  New gruesome details are being revealed every day: Allegedly, the military secret services delivered such obviously nonsensical information to Secretary of State Colin Powell that he was forced to delete the worst junk from his speech before the United Nations himself.  Was Powell fed this dubious Donald Rumsfeld’s behest?  Or were the ‘Services’ so eager to deliver the goods that they hysterically exaggerated the information at hand?  Unless fool-proof evidence that Saddam Hussein was indeed hiding weapons of mass destruction turns up soon, the Bush administration cannot avoid such nasty questions.” 


"Miscalculation Or Deceit"


In liberal daily Der Standard foreign affairs editor Gudrun Harrer wrote (6/1):  “There is still a possibility that [WMDs] will be found, but the relevance of such findings would have to be judged rationally, and unfortunately, the U.S. can no longer be trusted to do this.  However, it does mean that the threatening scenario which was used to present arguments in favor of the war, had little to do with true information, and a lot with political propaganda, and that is just putting it politely....  The political players obviously knew how to get the kind of reports that fit in with their plans.  But was it a miscalculation based on real worry or was it a conscious act of deceit?  To be precise: Whose miscalculation was it, and whose deceit?  How much did U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell know, when he presented his incorrect evidence to the UN, how much did British Premier Tony Blair know, when he talked of the ‘certainty’ of B and C weapons in Iraq, that could be ready to use within 45 minutes?...  The latest explanation, that Saddam Hussein destroyed his weapons before the arrival of the inspectors from Unmovic and the Atomic Energy Agency, is a double-edged sword:  It would mean that the UN weapons inspections worked in the first place.”


BELGIUM:  "Uneasiness"


Foreign editor Gerald Papy judged in independent La Libre Belgique (6/2):  “In St. Petersburg, U.S. President George W. Bush blandly suggested that the international community should focus more on Iraq’s reconstruction rather than on the demonstration that the Saddam Hussein regime actually had prohibited weapons of mass destruction, the main reason used by his administration to justify a military intervention.  Of course, the challenge of Iraq’s reconstruction, to which the White House only reluctantly associated the UN, is one of the major issues of the coming years.  But sharing this concern with George Bush should not exempt American leaders from clearing the suspicion that hanged over the arguments they used to wage war in Iraq."


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Problem Of Unity"


Michal Mocek wrote in mainstream daily MF Dnes (06/02):  "U.S. President Bush's speech in Krakow calling for a fight against weapons of mass destruction should become a basis for renewed unity [between Europe and the U.S.].  It looks as a good idea at first glance.  But a caution is appropriate.  The war in Iraq was justified by the threat of weapons of mass destruction, but as we know none of these weapons have been found yet.  In light of this, it is necessary to consider thoroughly what exactly the U.S. is offering to Europe.  Europe certainly should support an effort to dispose of the most destructive weapons, but only if the Americans will assure it firmly that this idea will not become an excuse for new wars.  Even weapons of mass destruction can be disposed of without 'shock and awe.'"


"Saddam Without Weapons?"


Petr Pravda observed in the mainstream MF Dnes (5/30):  "We must start to accept the fact that Saddam's regime in Iraq perhaps did not have any weapons of mass destruction.  Maybe it destroyed them shortly prior to the war, maybe even before that.  Regardless of the doubts, the war happened and it has confirmed that Saddam's regime was criminal and terrorized at least its own people.  The Iraqis have a real chance now to have a better life.  The U.S. and Britain, which carried out the war in spite of doubts by the rest of the world, should, however, muster all their strength to help Iraq now and dispel the doubts.  This is the only way to go."


GREECE:  "U.S. Excuses"


Popular, pro-government and anti-American Eleftherotypia argued (5/31):  "The lies being disseminated by George Bush and Tony Blair cannot be disguised, and are coming to light in a whirlwind of revelations and admissions about manufactured evidence and distortions of the truth.  The warlords insist that the weapons of mass destruction exist, but that 'patience' and time is needed, 'perhaps weeks and months,' to find them....  They will not, however, ever be found because, as is emerging in the United States, much of the evidence against Iraq was manufactured."


"Their Cynicism"


The lead editorial in popular, pro-government and anti-American Eleftherotypia held (5/30):  "The cynical confessions of U.S. Secretary and Under Secretary of the Invasion Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz about the fabrication of WMD information in Iraq leave PM Blair unprotected to strong charges for deceiving the British public....  A huge lie was used to terrorize and deceive the U.S. public and the ‘willing allies’ to insure their consensus to the illegal raid....  Who will apologize to the victims of the illegal invasion, the people of Iraq whose country was thrown to chaos, and all the American and British citizens who were deceived by their governments?”


HUNGARY:  "Shocking Declaration"


Foreign policy analyst Romulus Caplescu opined in influential daily Adevarul (5/30):  “After the shocking declaration made by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that weapons of mass destruction have not yet been found because the former regime in Baghdad may have destroyed them shortly before the start of the war, other shocking revelations have appeared....  Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, one of the toughest supporters of American military intervention, explained in a ‘Vanity Fair’ interview that the emphasis on the existence of such weapons as justification for the war was because of ‘bureaucratic reasons.’  He said that the supposed weapons were ‘the single reason that everyone could agree on.’… This statement is a new evidence that the noise made about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was a simple pretext.”




Endre Aczel stated in leading Nepszabadsag (5/30):  "Defense Secretary Rumsfeld went further in withdrawing than Wolfowitz.  In a sensational statement made at an International Relations Council meeting in New York, Rumsfeld pronounced the unspeakable: Iraqi weapons of mass destruction might never be found, because Saddam may have annihilated them before the war.  Well, if this is how the case turns out, then there will be no proof either, and the set of arguments built up to support the war will collapse with retroactive effect....  Of course, there might be some kind of a 'result' in the end.  This would especially benefit British Prime Minister Tony Blair....  In the United Kingdom, the proponents of the 'war based on lies,' including Blair's former foreign minister, are already expected to account for the steps taken."


IRELAND:  "Only WMD In Iraq Were Coalition Bombs"


The centrist Sunday Tribune editorialized (6/1):  "It would be smug of us to say we told you so.  But the fact is, we told you so....  It is now patently clear that the war on Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with weapons of mass destruction.  It was and is about oil, and about big business and about some at the top of Bush's administrative team farming out contracts to their friends, and in some cases, former business partners.  They will, no doubt, earn billions while the people of Iraq suffer without electricity, sewerage, clean water and medicine."


"Reasons for Opposing Iraq War Have Been Vindicated"


Michael D. Higgins, Irish Labour Party spokesman on foreign affairs, commented in the center-left Irish Times (5/31) (Internet version):  "The Iraq war now appears to have been justified on an entirely false basis....  This is profoundly challenging to the Irish Government, and others like it that assisted the war.  The Government...not only stressed the existence of such an imminent threat for their covert and overt support for the war, they, in the case of the Taoiseach [prime minister] and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, actually denied that regime change was the purpose of a war on the people of Iraq.  The existence of WMD referred to in a number of UN resolutions was their sole justification. Now they are shown to have swallowed propaganda from Britain and the United States offered as incontestable intelligence....  Certainly the decision of countries like Canada to withhold support on the basis of such flimsy assertions has now been thoroughly vindicated.  We now understand as well why it was that so many countries withheld support for a resolution, despite being put under the greatest intimidation of an economic and diplomatic kind."


PORTUGAL:  "Necessary Lies"


Respected veteran journalist Mário Mesquita argued in influential moderate-left Público (6/1):  "The confessions by Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz regarding WMD in Iraq should probably be interpreted, in the context of the philosophy of the master Leo Strauss, as virtuous lies by the State meant to allow it to defend itself against domestic and foreign public opinion....  Because of this, Europeans found themselves confronted with an uncomfortable choice: opting to blindly follow the enlightened elite on the other side of the Atlantic, or joining the group of ignorant masses who will never know the real motive for the choices made by the world's power."


"Who Wins"


Former Social Democratic Party Finance Minister Francisco Sarsfield Cabral opined in respected center-left Diário de Notícias (6/2):  "A war was triggered based upon mere pretexts for public consumption (propaganda weapons, in the end), pretexts that later were admitted to be false.  And this came from someone who--in the case of Wolfowitz--defends the war as a way to bring democracy to the world.  But what kind of democracy is this in which leaders wage war (without even at least formally declaring it) deceiving the citizens who elected them?...  It is the enemies of the values of civilization who win with this caricature of democracy, where essential questions are decided by enlightened vanguards, scorning the citizen to the point of deceiving him."


"An Unsettling Question"


Editor-in-chief José Manuel Fernandes wrote in influential moderate-left daily Público  (5/30):  "For now, the fact that all that has been discovered is limited to two mobile laboratories raises an unsettling question: was the Coalition lying when it brought the evidence it had to the Security Council, according to which Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction?....  The interrogations of arrested senior officials will perhaps aid in clearing up the mystery.  But even if the mystery persists, the motives for the war will not disappear--since even without these arsenals, Saddam had ways of obtaining them, and that was the danger: the possible convergence of a regime with the capacity to construct weapons of mass destruction, and terrorists with the will to use them in any big city in the West."


SERBIA & MONTENEGRO:  "Persian Miniature"


Bosko Jaksic  commented in Belgrade's leading, pro-government Politika (5/29) (Internet version):  "Washington's promoters of the preventative strike doctrine...have already launched a systematic anti-Iranian campaign of accusations, propaganda, and misinformation....  Everything really is the spitting image of the unimaginatively arrogant scenario that preceded the strike on Iraq.  It does not matter that weapons of mass destruction have not yet been discovered in Iraq.  The U.S. Ali-Baba knows what he is doing....  It does not matter that no ties between Saddam's secular regime and the Islamic Sunni theocrat Usama Bin Ladin and his al-Qa'ida have ever been proven.  A casus belli was needed and it does not matter, either, that many people did not believe it....  The building of the 'Iranian case' is a distilled recycling of the Iraqi model.  A very tasteless deja vu.  Nobody wants to listen to Tehran's denials, just as nobody took any notice of Baghdad's."


TURKEY:  "Bush And Blair:  Are They Lying To Us?"


Ozgen Acar argued in social democrat-intellectual Cumhuriyet (6/3):  "The main argument for Iraq's occupation stems from history's largest terrorist event--September 11--after which Washington declared a war against terrorism.  First we have observed the occupation of Afghanistan with the excuse of capturing Al Qaida and UBL's headquarters.  Yet UBL has not been found and captured so far.  Next came the Iraq argument: not only supporting terrorism but also producing weapons of mass destruction.  That was the fundamental argument for toppling Saddam and his regime.  But there has been no WMD found in Iraq to date, not to even mention that no Saddam has been found either.  And interestingly enough, now both London and Washington are working on a plan to eliminate weapons of mass destruction which 'probably' exist in Iran."




EGYPT:  "Saddam's Hell, Bush's Paradise"


Mahmud Nafi contended in government-owned Al-Jumhuriyah (5/29) (Internet version):  "Time has proven that Bush and Saddam are merely two sides of the same coin.  Both are ruthless slaughterers, are unjust and coercive, and ignore human values and international norms....  Saddam lied only to his people, but Bush misled the entire world.  The U.S. House of Representatives recently ascertained the deception of Bush and his administration and asked the CIA to reassess the information it forwarded to the U.S. administration on Iraq's ability to develop weapons of mass destruction and its alleged al-Qa'ida connections. The House of Representatives asked in dismay: Where are the weapons of mass destruction?"


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Summit of 'Emperor' Bush"


Chief Editor Abd-al-Bari Atwan judged in London-based pan-Arab Al-Quds al-Arabi (6/2) (Internet version):  "Iraq is now the model of chaos and depression....  What support is left in Iraq for the U.S. administration when its closest ally Ahmad al-Jalabi accuses it of deception?  And what credibility is left for it at the Arab and international levels when it does not find a single ounce of the weapons of mass destruction [WMD]?"


"WMD Debate"


The English-language Saudi Gazette had this view (5/31) (Internet version):  "Democracy depends on informed decisions and if the Iraq experience has demonstrated anything at all it is that accurate, reliable information is a commodity in short supply.  Does any of this matter now that Saddam has been deposed?  It matters insofar as that Rumsfeld's comments came during the course of threats made against Iran, which he claims is not only developing a nuclear capability but sheltering al-Qa'ida elements.  If all of this sounds familiar then it should as it is very much the language that was being used in the run-up to the U.S.-British invasion of Iraq."


"Iraq's Curse Chases Blair"


London-based pan-Arab Al-Quds al-Arabi judged (5/30):  "Rumsfeld's confessions confirmed the doubts the British public and the political elite had about the existence of a hidden war agenda that did not in any case include weapons of mass destruction....  What is certain is that Tony Blair's future as leader of the Labor Party and prime minister of Britain is perhaps at greater risk after the confessions made by his U.S. allies.  This is so because the British public will not easily accept the loss of scores of their children in a war launched on the basis of U.S. lies....  Iraq's curse will continue to chase Blair and Bush and all those who joined them in this unethical war."


"What Now, Mr. Bush?"


Tariq al-Ma'ina wrote in the English-language Arab News of Jedda (5/31) (Internet version):  "In today's dynamic world, yesterday's news is fast becoming a fading memory, and yet can we not remember what it was that started this all?  Wasn't it those notorious weapons of mad destruction that were on everybody's lips then, the reason to enter and destroy?  Wasn't evidence tabled in front of the UN Security Council?  Where did they go?  Polls today show most Americans aren't too concerned....  Iraq was and remains a distant dot on the map, and so long as it does not interfere with their daily lives, so be it....  Since the war began, the military and its media have trumpeted one WMD discovery after another that turned out to be false.  Today, the same people are saying it could take months or years for them to be discovered.  Or better yet, some have gone do far to suggest that it was all destroyed a week before the bombings began.  Right under the noses of the UN inspectors who were combing all over Iraq!  Did the end justify the means?  Or are the occupiers no better than the oppressors they replaced?  Over 3,500 innocent Iraqi civilians are dead and maimed today because of the non-existent WMDs.  And on whose conscience shall those deaths lie?"


ALGERIA:  "American Military Presence In Iraq Will Be Long"


La Tribune, the economic French-language independent daily, reported (6/2):  “The United States, which was planning to withdraw some of its troops from Iraq, will certainly maintain them for a long time, in view of the persistent insecurity since the end of the war, while the polemic on Saddam’s Weapons of Mass Destruction, which cannot be found, is growing more and more....  In an interview given to an American magazine, the number two of the Pentagon, Paul Wolfowitz confessed that the weapons of mass destruction were only a pretext ‘upon which, everyone could agree,’ for a response in Iraq.  The real reason for the war, according to Paul Wolfowitz would have been the necessity for the United States to withdraw its troops from Saudi Arabia.  Seven weeks after the end of the conflict and while the forces of the coalition have yet to find a single weapon of mass destruction, these declarations constrained President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair to react....  On the eve of the G8 summit which starts today in Evian, Bush has begun to smooth things over with the countries of the ‘Bloc of Peace’.”


LEBANON:  "Weapons of Mass Destruction And Deception"


Sahar Ba'asiri judged in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (5/30) (Internet version):  "The United States has so far not found one gram of any chemical or biological substance in a country on which it launched a war that was described as pre-emptive, claiming that this country constituted imminent danger because of the weapons it possessed....  There might now be mounting speculations and even demands in the United States and Britain to open an investigation in this regard, as British Minister Robin Cook, who resigned in protest against war, had demanded.  There might also be more talk about the attempt to mislead the U.S. and British public (and Blair himself), and even about what some U.S. commentators have began to predict would become the 'biggest intelligence trick.'  But, all this does not change anything about the Iraqi reality.  Rather, it exposes the falsehood of those democracies and the transparency and values they claim, in the name of which they launch wars and do not hesitate to call them 'liberation wars."


SYRIA:  "Will There Be Any [Arab] Awakening?"


Haidar Haidar commented in government-owned Al-Thawra (6/1):  "Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz stated openly that the Iraqi WMD was a pretext to justify war on Iraq.  This came a day after Rumsfeld's statement that Iraq might have destroyed its WMD before the war.  This was an attempt to explain not finding such weapons in Iraq....  The unethical war launched against Iraq...was received with a huge international objection....  It has increased the international split over strategic issues that worry all humanity....  The whole world is attempting to avoid the negative impacts of U.S. unilateralism on our planet.  Isn't it high time to take serious steps toward Arab rapprochement and solidarity?"


TUNISIA:  "The Death Toll Of Humanism"


Abdelmajid Chorfi commented in independent French-language daily Le Quotidien (6/2):  "Research undertaken by an avalanche of American military units throughout the Tigris and Euphrates basins did not detect even an ounce of any chemical, biological or nuclear substance likely to be used in the making of such weapons [of mass destruction]....  Such a fact does not really surprise.  Most of the world leaders knew--and implicitly stated--that Saddam very likely no longer had these type of weapons after twelve years of a tough embargo and unbearable isolation."


"Too Much Misery At The Same Time"


M'hamed Ben Youssef penned this editorial in the French-language weekly Tunis Hebdo (6/2):  "For more than six months, this column has been monopolized by the analysis of events generally initiated by the strangeness of the provoking and misleading behavior of the hawks gravitating around the White House leader....  As for the existence of bacteriological, chemical or nuclear weapons, they were just brazen lies to justify more or less, the military conquest of this State....  In this unbelievable commotion which threatens our human dignity...Washington uses the same scenario to target a new aim, still another Muslim country.  Iran is today surrounded by GI's controlling, among others, the Iranian-Afghani borders, and the Iraqi-Iranian ones.  This is leading to a professional destabilization of the Mullahs' regime."


UAE:  "Gulf News Says: Trust Is Most Precious"


Independent, pro-government English-language Gulf News of Dubai held (5/30) (Internet version):  "The American and British governments appear to have misled the world with their claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.  This failure of truth will now give both governments a serious challenge when they ask the Arab world to trust them in their efforts to rebuild Iraq or to find peace in Israel.  Why should the Arabs believe governments that treat the truth so lightly?"




AUSTRALIA:  "Challenge Over Iraq’s WMDs"


The liberal Sydney Morning Herald commented (6/3):  “The Howard Government should be embarrassed by the failure to uncover chemical and biological weapons in Iraq.  It was to rid the world of such weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that the United States, Britain and Australia went to war....  The dearth of evidence so far does not mean the illegal weapons case will not eventually be made.  However, an independent assessment would prove far more reassuring to the international community than merely expanding the U.S.-led search.  This is now possible under the terms of the recent UN Security Council resolution on Iraq which allows for the return of UN weapons inspectors.  In Australia, a thorough and open review of prewar intelligence material would go a long way to reassuring the public that we did not go to war over two mobile trailers.”


"A Cynical Hoax?"


Defense writer Geoffrey Barker opined in the business-oriented Australian Financial Review (6/2):  “A war is too important and too costly to waste on a phantom threat.  As doubts grow about the existence of Saddam Hussein’s supposed WMD so do suspicions that the war against Iraq was a terrible and costly waste....  As days pass without any WMDs being found, the suspicion must be that American, British and Australian leaders conspired to cry wolf about Hussein’s arsenal to win domestic and international support for a war conducted for other geopolitical and possibly resource reasons.  The growing perception will compromise the national security of the three nations by heightening cynicism about the credibility of political leaders in a real emergency....  If there are no weapons, why was Iraq selected for liberation this year?… Perhaps the U.S. wanted to demonstrate what can happen to countries that defy its power....  The WMD explanation looks increasingly like a cynical hoax that could haunt the coalition of the willing for years.“


INDONESIA:  "Terror And The Tyranny Of Language"


Independent Koran Tempo held (5/31):  "It was enough for American politicians to use the words 'al-Qaida terrorism' to turn the American public and people of the world into supporters of the assault on Afghanistan.  The words 'weapons of mass destruction' were used to hypnotize people into supporting regime change in Baghdad....  Just this week, the United States Deputy Defense Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, has acknowledged that getting rid of  'weapons of mass destruction' was not America's main purpose in Iraq....  He has said that the main aim is so that America can move its military bases from Saudi Arabia to Iraq.  With that new acknowledgment, we cannot but suspect that invading Afghanistan was perhaps also not to destroy terrorism.  We also cannot help suspecting America's motives when its officials again sing the old songs--'al-Qaida terrorism' and 'weapons of mass destruction'--to intimidate Iran.  More terror, more war....  America has lied in using the argument 'to destroy terrorism' to hide its various real motives, including control of oil and strengthening its political and economic hegemony."


PHILIPPINES:  "Standby Reasons"


The independent Today (6/3) editorialized (6/3):  "Currently a hot topic on both sides of the Atlantic is whether the Saddam Hussein regime ever really had the weapons of mass destruction....  The quick reaction among people who think logically was, therefore, 'So what was the war for?....  Ah, well, but that kind of tough questioning forgets that, besides the WMD, there were other 'standby' or 'optional' reasons for calling the war, i.e.: to 'liberate' the Iraqis from Saddam Hussein; to break the back of the international terrorism movement....  Yet even these other 'standby' reasons are now being called into question....  .America faces the tough situation of helping Iraqis set up a democratic government....  As for the global is becoming increasingly clear that the al Qaeda is a very resilient force and has regrouped...and is ready to operate again....  And yet, wasn't it George W. Bush who declared, after Saddam Hussein was toppled, that because of America's war on Iraq, the world has become a safer place?"




INDIA:  "The Iraqi Challenge"


The centrist Times of India observed (6/2):  "Finally, Washington has given up pretending that the Iraq war was about weapons of mass destruction.  Indeed, official American pronouncements now admit that Iraq is the first step in redesigning the political architecture of West Asia.  The neo-conservatives in the U.S. seem convinced this is necessary to ensure that this will be the American century....  Attacks by the Al-Qaeda and its associated organizations are to be expected in various parts of the world, including the U.S. itself, so long as the war on terrorism is not brought to a successful conclusion.  Clearly, this is what motivates the neo-conservatives to press on with their agenda of carrying out regime changes in West Asia with coercive diplomacy to the extent possible, and use of force if and where necessary."


"Iraq: Crocodile Tears"


Editor K. Narendra argued in pro-BJP Urdu daily Pratap (5/29):  "In his recent speech at a dinner in Washington President Bush gave the audience an account of the issues that, in his view, the U.S. currently faced and the actions he was taking or planning to take to meet the challenges....  A large part of his speech was devoted to Iraq, during which he made no reference to the weapons of mass destruction which was used as an excuse to attack Iraq.  As far as his pronouncements about the reconstruction of Iraq are concerned, it made me recall the deceitful claims used to be made by the Britishers during their colonial rule over India.  They would also shed crocodile tears about the misery of the Indian people with the sole aim of intensifying their economic and political exploitation and consolidate British hold over the country.  The post-war situation has only reaffirmed the fact that the U.S.-led attack was solely aimed at capturing Iraq's oil resources.  Notwithstanding its lofty self-congratulatory claims regarding democracy, humanity and ethical conduct, the U.S. has proved itself to be not only a big power but also an unmatched liar."


IRAN:  "Big Lies On Iraq WMD"


Tehran's Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran Radio stated (6/2):  "Nearly three months after the occupation of Iraq, no weapons of mass destruction have been found in that country.  The issue was the main pretext for launching a military attack on Iraq.  Now many American and British politicians as well as the media in these countries are criticizing the matter.  An expert on political issues, Mr Sabah Zanganeh, comments on the motive and objectives behind the propaganda in these two countries:


'It was to a large extent clear from the start that the allegations of America and Britain on the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were not true.  This is because the representatives of the international organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency and the head of the UN weapons inspectors, in their reports to the Security Council, stated these facts.  Now that the entire world has realized that such weapons either did not exist or were destroyed at some stage, and in the wake of the realization that the pretext exploited by America to attack Iraq was false, some groups in America and Britain in the mass media and the parliaments of the two countries are joining the protest raised by the leaders and mass media of other countries.  These deputies are now questioning the defense ministers and foreign secretaries of America and Britain.  This is, firstly, the outcome of a heavy pressure that exists in the world which refuses to accept the allegations of America and Britain.  Secondly, it is an attempt by these deputies and media representatives to reduce the negative consequences of this issue and the fact that the leaders of America and Britain lied to the people in their own societies.  That is, they are trying to lessen the negative effects of the big lies, which were unbearable to the global community, among the public in their own countries.'"


"U.S.-UK Claims Questioned"


The Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran Radio 1 broadcast this commentary (5/31):  "The credibility of earlier claims by America and Britain about Iraq's weapons programmes have come under question almost two months after the end of the war and the fact that no weapons of mass destruction have been found.  Meanwhile, news sources have revealed that Colin Powell has, under pressure from the White House, used dubious documents to blame Iraq of possessing weapons of mass destruction."


PAKISTAN:  "What New Scenes Will We See In This Drama?"


Lahore-based independent Urdu daily Din judged (6/3):  "U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his deputies are openly saying now that the WMDs were an excuse used for documentation purposes only, the real reason [for war in Iraq] was to get U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia....  These revelations have made Mr. Tony Blair's position quite precarious.  Mr. Blair is still trying to convince his parliament and nation that Iraq under Saddam was a threat to the entire humanity....  Statements by the U.S. defense secretary and his deputy clarify U.S. ambitions in the region--that its real motive was to gain control of Iraq's oil reserves and to pave the way for Israeli domination of the Middle East....  As far as the WMD pretext goes, the U.S. has now turned its guns towards Iran, which signals the start of a new act in this drama."


"New Truths On Iraq"


The center-right, national Nation editorialized (6/2):  "In what seems a deliberate policy to play down the issue of Iraq's WMD, both Secretary Rumsfeld and his neo-conservative deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, have issued statements within a day of each other which annihilate the thesis Washington adopted for going to war on Iraq....  Wolfowitz said that the Iraq war was launched primarily to prepare ground for relocating U.S. forces from Saudi Arabia to Iraq.  The issue of Iraq's WMDs was merely adopted for the bureaucratic reason that every one could agree on it.  This confession comes a day after Mr. Rumsfeld's statement that 'it was possible that Iraqis may have decided to destroy any weapons before the conflict started.'  Should we now believe Washington was lying as a matter of policy a few weeks ago, but is now whistle-clean, after having entered the confessional?...  It now seems the UN inspectors' demand for more time and the Saddam regime's cooperation had become an obstacle in Washington's designs for Iraq.  Had the inspectors finally given Iraq a clean chit, the U.S. goal of regime change would have been foiled.  So too would its access to Iraq's oil wealth....  By revising the official reason for going to war on Iraq, Washington may have eased public pressure to deliver Iraq's WMDs; but surely it realizes that it has also pulled the plug on its own credibility and made its more-loyal-than-the-king allies, look like circus clowns."


"Wolfowitz's Admission"


The Lahore-based, liberal, English language Daily Times commented (5/31):  "The U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz...has said that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were not really the casus belli....  Are we surprised?  Yes.  Not because Mr. Wolfowitz has said something that we did not already know, but because he has chosen to make a clean breast of it.  It couldn't have been a Freudian slip; could it then be hubris, a kind of message to the entire world that the U.S. can do what it wants regardless of the bleating world?  Perhaps. Yet, coming as it does from Mr. Wolfowitz, a highly placed official in the Bush administration, the admission--if it can be called that--puts the official seal on what has been unofficially suspected and said for a long time.  The countries opposing the U.S. war on Iraq were right, given the stated purpose, that UN weapons inspectors were doing fine.  But while pushing the WMD line, the U.S., nonetheless, was not prepared to give inspections any chance.  Dr. Hans Blix, the Swedish diplomat and chief weapons inspector, has already publicly accused the U.S. of hoodwinking the UN and the entire world.  Mr. Wolfowitz has vindicated him....  Many columnists and commentators in the mainstream U.S. press chose to depict Iraq as a threat.  If Mr. Wolfowitz' statement fails to wake them up from their self-inflicted delusion, then we can only suspect that they were a party to the great deception mounted by the administration."




SOUTH AFRICA:  "Profitable Flouting Of The Truth"


The liberal Sunday Tribune commented (6/1):  "It is becoming patently obvious that the invasion of Iraq...was carried out on the wings of a deliberate lie.  It was a monumental con trick....  The stated reason...was to rid the region of weapons of mass destruction....  Months after the invasion, the weapons haven't been found, Saddam has disappeared, Iraq is in chaos, the conquerors have their hands on the oil and are parceling out the contracts to their friends.  This is a lesson--and a costly one--that if world peace is to be maintained, all countries, big and small, should abide by international laws and conventions."


GHANA:  "How About A Little Apology, Mr. Rumsfeld"


Pro-ruling party (NPP) daily Accra Mail argued (5/26):  “Mr. Rumsfeld, it is unfair, almost an insult, to the world, to now flippantly wave away the reality of the WMDs not having been found after all the bombings and trauma caused the world.  Yes Saddam was a horrible dictator, etc., but did the U.S. require over $70 billion to remove him?  Priorities do indeed differ!  All the same, how about a little apology for misleading and endangering the world?”


ZAMBIA:  "War And More War?"


The privately owned and independent Post editorialized (5/30):  "It is very clear now that George W Bush and Tony Blair lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq....  Now the liberators of Iraq are scheming on how to share contracts, how to loot the wealth of that country and recover their war expenses and make profits.  True liberators don't behave this way....  This is a reality but it will not last forever; it cannot last forever because the political and economic order that currently prevails in the world is simply unsustainable and can only lead to disaster."




CANADA:  "The Truth"


Editorialist Jean-Marc Salvet contended in centrist Le Soleil (6/3):  "Seven weeks after the disappearance of the tyrant none of the weapons have been found.  Worse still, the doubts regarding the information that attested to their presence are growing daily.  The suspicions of political manipulation are rife....  The present uncertainty forces us to ask what was really left on the ground and what exactly did Washington know when it launched the military operation.  The disappearance of the despot is a happy turn of events.  Slowly and despite the troubles on the ground, Iraqis are emerging from their jail.  But the satisfaction we feel should in no way hide the truth."


"The Straussian Conspiracy"


New York-based correspondent Richard Hétu wrote in the centrist La Presse (6/1):  "The foreign policy of the U.S. has fallen under the grasp of a small group of intellectuals who follow the ideas of a Jewish philosopher of German origin, Leo Strauss, who died in 1973.  It explains everything including the latest comments of Defense Deputy Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz about the justification of the war in Iraq....  One of Strauss' main ideas is that intellectual elites can lie to the world to defend liberal democracy against its enemies....  In the past weeks several prestigious newspapers or magazines, including Le Monde, The New York Times and The New Yorker have published articles on the influence of Leo Strauss and his disciples on Washington's foreign policy."


"The Liars"


Editorialist Serge Truffaut wrote in the liberal Le Devoir (6/1):  "All the Doctor Jekylls of the White House and of 10 Downing Street and all the Mister Hydes of the American and British administrations have lied.  Today they admit that their weapons of mass destruction were only a trap they used because they are men on a mission....  Why?  Because they are all...crusaders of action....  All these men, starting with Paul Wolfowitz, claim to be intellectual disciples of philosopher Leo Strauss who says..."the laws of nations are exclusively determined by the legislators and tribunals."  Pushing his logic, their logic further would mean falling into another law: the law of the jungle."


"The Last Victim"


Chief editorialist André Pratte wrote in the centrist La Presse (6/1):  "In a recent declaration which is as embarrassing as it is revealing, Defense Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz explained the emphasis was put on weapons of mass destruction 'because it was a reason which everyone could agree on.'  In other words, in the mind of Mr. Wolfowitz, there were other reasons just as, if not more important, to attack Iraq than those made public.  So far these declarations had had relatively little impact in the U.S....  There are other less important but nevertheless troubling information.  For example, according to a BBC story, the supposedly heroic rescue of private Jessica Lynch did not unfold at all as the U.S. army said it did....  And the Americans had to admit that on the site where Saddam Hussein was said to be on the first night of the war, they found neither bodies nor remnants of a bunker.  Thus, as time passes we wonder more and more not only if the justifications for the war were true but also if the war itself unfolded as we were told it did." 


BRAZIL:  ""No Way Out"


Right-of-center O Globo editorialized (5/31):  "Prime Minister Tony Blair swears he never doubted the existence of banned weapons in Iraq: that's what Her Majesty's espionage services told him.  One and half months after the war it's almost certain the weapons didn't exist and probably never did.  It's either one thing or another: Blair was either misinformed or he lied.  Neither of the two possibilities is good to his statesman reputation."


"Wolves And Hawks"


Liberal Folha de S. Paulo editorialized (5/29): "Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has admitted that Saddam Hussein might not have possessed WMD, thereby contradicting the main reason George W. Bush and Tony Blair used to try to justify the conflict....  The U.S. and the UK did not hesitate to use gross falsifications to allege an enormous Iraqi threat....  The U.S. acted as if it were the wolf of Aesop's fable.  Saddam was not a lamb, but he was devoured by the law of the strongest, according to which justifications and the law are inconvenient details made to be forgotten."


MEXICO:  "Blair Concerned, Weapons Still Not Found In Iraq"


Old-guard nationalist El Universal judged (6/2):  "Little by little, public opinion in the U.S. and in Great Britain is reaching the conclusion that the White House and Prime Minister Blair exaggerated information supporting the existence of mass destruction weapons in Iraq....  Additionally, there are elements pointing that the war against Iraq had already been decided in the year 2002, regardless of the outcome of UN inspections….  It would seem that the U.S. and British governments had confidence in that the coalition's victory would make public opinion forget the arguments for war….  Nothing silences better criticism than success, and for the allies the benefits of the operation largely overcame the moral objections of nations that were treated as 'traitors.'...  Bush and Blair will be reminded that they did not speak the truth….  Those who opposed the war, as Mexico did, were right.  Even though serious political consequences against the U.S. and Greta Britain are not foreseen in the near future, the wheels of justice are slow but once in motion, it will be very difficult to stop them."


"Bush: The Weight Of The Lie"


Left-of-center Jornada editorialized (6/2):  "Two months after the end of the war in Iraq, U.S. authorities realized that the links between Al-Qaeda and Hussein were nonexistent; the occupying troops have not been able to find a single piece of evidence that the Hussein regime possessed WMDs.  On the contrary, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz admitted in an interview that the ‘chemical weapons’ were a bureaucratic pretext to launch the war....  On the other hand, there is plenty and proven evidence of the lies of Bush and Blair....   American public opinion is indulgent with the massacres that its authorities effect overseas but it does not forgive lies....  We hope from this American Puritanism, that this lie becomes the political grave of Bush."


NICARAGUA:  "U.S. Hypocrisy"


Leftist Managua daily El Nuevo Diario ran an op-ed written by former Sandinista foreign minister Miguel D'Escoto Brockman (6/2):  "There is no doubt that there is plenty of hypocrisy in the U.S. official rhetoric against terrorism or weapons of mass destruction.  The U.S. pretends to pass as humanitarian and peace loving when the truth is the complete opposite."


PANAMA:  "U.S., A Power Out Of Control"


Journalist Demetrio Olaciregui argued in conservative El Panama America (6/2):  “Little by little the veil that hides some of the U.S. actions in its anti-terrorist war and the Iraqi invasion has been lifted....  The CIA is being questioned by Congress, accused of manipulating the information on Iraq for possible political purposes....  The credibility of the U.S. leader has been undermined.  He has not found Hussein, nor weapons of mass destruction, nor Osama bin Laden."



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