Baseless Allegations: How US Deceived His Nation and World?

  March 27, 2022   Read time 3 min
Baseless Allegations: How US Deceived His Nation and World?
As became apparent soon after the US attack, however, Saddam had been effectively disarmed following the Gulf War of 1991 by a savage sanctions regime justified in the West by the need to force Iraq to submit to the UN inspections.

The Iraqi leader, it seemed, had secretly disposed of his WMD and then played a game of cat and mouse with the inspectors to conceal from his own public and from Iran both his humiliation at the hands of the West and his new state of defencelessness. Saddam was aware that his continuing rule of Iraq was dependent on his appearing invincible. Nonetheless, there was much evidence available to the Bush Administration that he had been effectively disarmed since the early 1990s, though US offi cials worked strenuously to ensure that the information was either suppressed or contradicted.

A series of UN reports into Iraq’s suspected nuclear programme showed that the threat had been ‘neutralized’ and that ‘there were no unresolved disarmament issues’. UN inspectors hunting for biological and chemical weapons issued more circumspect reports but still found no evidence of such WMD, and argued for more time to complete their searches. Also, the highest-profi le defector from Saddam’s regime, his son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, who had run the WMD programme through the 1980s and into the early 1990s, had told the Central Intelligence Agency back in 1995 that ‘Iraq destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons stocks and the missiles to deliver them’.

The story, which was leaked to Newsweek eight years later, made no impression on the public debate as it was published only days before the invasion of Iraq. Similarly, some of those involved in the inspection process, including Scott Ritter, who had headed the UN inspectors in Iraq for a time, concluded before the invasion that Saddam was as good as disarmed, though they made almost no impression on the public debate.

In 2002 Ritter wrote: ‘While we [the UN inspectors] were never able to provide 100 per cent certainty regarding the disposition of Iraq’s proscribed weaponry, we did ascertain a 90–95 per cent level of verifi ed disarmament.’7 Ritter was proved right in the aftermath of the invasion, in 2004, when a US survey team concluded: ‘Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991.’ The report added that the team could fi nd ‘no credible indications that Baghdad resumed production’.

Given both the lack of plausible evidence that Iraq possessed WMD, or that it intended to use them against the West, few experts believed a ‘pre-emptive’ attack on Iraq could be justified in international law. But even before the official reason for the invasion had been discredited, the White House offered a secondary justification for its military occupation. US forces, claimed President George W. Bush, were there to liberate the Iraqi people from Saddam’s rule, which was believed to have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis over more than two decades – though Bush and others avoided mentioning that many of those deaths were caused by the West’s strict sanctions regime.
In Saddam’s place, the US army would create an environment in which democracy could flourish. In February 2003, shortly before the invasion, President Bush predicted: ‘A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region.’ Soon the attack on Iraq was being portrayed as the main thrust of a wider US plan to spread democracy through the Middle East. Iraq’s invasion, noted one commentator in the Washington Post, ‘may be the most idealistic war fought in modern times – a war whose only coherent rationale, for all the misleading hype about weapons of mass destruction and al Qaeda terrorists, is that it toppled a tyrant and created the possibility of a democratic future’.

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