July 23, 2004
U.S. AND UK PRE-WAR INTEL REPORTS: NO ONE RESPONSIBLE, 'NO ONE GUILTY'
** Bush and Blair
"emerge unscathed" while the intel services are
** Critics contend UK and
U.S. Iraq reports confirm the war was based on "false foundations."
** British papers are
galled that Butler finds "no one accountable" for Blair's
** The "superpowers'
blunders" will undercut U.S. and UK credibility to act in future
Leaders 'should be held responsible for intel fraud'-- Writers found the U.S. Senate and UK Butler
reports on pre-war intelligence "troubling" for failing to assign
political responsibilty despite delivering "devastating
verdicts." Both President Bush and
PM Blair "resurfaced unharmed."
Even with "so many damning reports," noted one Kuwaiti writer,
"neither Bush nor Blair were thrown out" and "no heads
rolled." Oslo's independent Dagens
Naeringsliv went so far as to say they "deserve to be fired, but
voters forgive the most incredible things." Some mocked Lord Butler for "affirming
that everyone is accountable" but deciding no one "specifically"
was to blame. As Saudi Arabia's
English-language Arab News put it: "Only the British can manage
inquiries...that admit to errors that absolutely no one committed."
A 'litany of error and self-delusion'-- While a few positive South Asian editorials
admired the "independence and
impartiality" of the U.S.-UK inquiry processes, more detractors dismissed
the reports for "confirming the obvious": the Iraq war was "based on a
lie." The UK account
"echoes" the U.S.', judged the liberal Sydney Morning Herald,
with its "delineation of weak information compounded by feeble
analysis." It also revealed Blair's
conviction was "built on sand."
Even if Bush and Blair had not wilfully lied, they had, alleged the
liberal Toronto Star, "crafted a case for war by spooking Americans
and Britons with flimsy, fatally flawed evidence."
Brit papers can't forgive Blair for doing Britain a 'disservice'
and 'misleading' the public-- British papers across
the spectrum were incensed over Butler's "refusal to find fault" or
hold PM Blair accountable for following President Bush into such a
"reckless and ill-prepared...neocon adventure." The Butler report was "every bit as
bad" as the Senate's, except in Britain's case the committee "has
chosen" not to find fault with the "intelligence chiefs or the
politicians who produced the climate in which they cut such corners." Even war supporters such as the conservative Daily
Telegraph echoed leftist sentiment that the report does not "exonerate
Mr. Blair for the slipshod processes and slapdash presentaton over which he has
presided." But, as the conservative
Daily Mail explained, this is "Blairland, where the standards and
decencies that once ensured a proud record of integrity in public life are
Confidence in U.S.-UK intelligence 'undermined'-- Some papers warned the "experiment"
of using intelligence for political purposes "had failed" and could
have serious consequences for the "next time a world leader" wants to
enter a conflict. Austria's liberal Der
Standard claimed London and Washington's efforts to turn "political
responsibility into a technical responsibility" of the intelligence
services "diminishes options" for facing future threats. Critics chided the "inept"
intelligence services for succumbing to "pressure" from "Bush
and his war hawks."
EDITOR: Irene Marr
Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press
sentiment. Posts select commentary to
provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. This report summarizes and interprets foreign
editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S.
Government. This analysis was based on
98 reports from 29 countries over July 10-21, 2004. Editorial excerpts from each country are
listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "No Rejoicing
Until Mr. Blair Apologizes For Misleading Us Over Iraq"
An editorial in the center-left Independent contended
(7/21): "In the House of Commons
yesterday, Tony Blair asked us to rejoice at the fact that Iraq had been
liberated. This echo of Margaret
Thatcher's infamous exhortation during the Falklands campaign serves only to
demonstrate the extent of the Prime Minister's arrogance over the war.... In
truth, the Prime Minister was only able to dodge the main issue so effectively because
the Tories are proving so ineffective in holding him to account. Since they committed themselves
wholeheartedly to the invasion of Iraq last year, the Tories lack sufficient
credibility now they are trying to question the basis of that decision to invade.... Until Mr. Blair offers a satisfactory
explanation of why he shed vital intelligence service caveats in making the
case for war, the question of Iraq will continue to plague him. When the Prime Minister faces up to his
terrible misjudgments, that will be a time to rejoice. But not before.
"No Credit For Blair"
An editorial in left-of-center Guardian
held (7/21): "The impression was of a government dusting itself down and
grinning at a cheeky escape. The prime
minister may hope that he will return after the summer and put Iraq behind
him. If he thinks that, he is
"The Leader Who Promised So Much"
An editorial in the conservative tabloid Daily
Mail averred (7/21): "All the
bright promise. All those high
hopes. Ten years to the day since Tony
Blair was acclaimed as Labour's new leader, what is left of them now?... According to the latest polls, for example,
most voters believe he lied over Iraq.
That is a devastating verdict, especially when the nation faces a deadly
terrorist threat. Who will listen to him
now if he warns of risks to national security?... Of course Mr. Blair can claim
some successes. He bravely transformed
Labour, took great political risks in Ulster and still manages (just) to
co-exist with Gordon Brown, who has been so outstanding in managing the
economy. But Mr. Blair's nemesis is Iraq.
The way he misled Britain into this misbegotten war has brought into
terrifying focus how far spin came to dominate his regime."
"There Was Never An Honest Debate In Cabinet"
Former international development secretary Clare
Short commented in the center-left Independent (7/19): "When Lord
Butler asked who was responsible, he said it was a collective failure. Yet the report draws attention to the Prime
Minister's very informal style of decision-making. It tells us there were papers written to
inform cabinet discussion that were not circulated, therefore cabinet members
were unable to take advice or reflect on issues in advance. However, we are told that the Cabinet discussed
Iraq on 24 occasions. But most members
of the Cabinet saw little intelligence, read no papers and knew only what they
read in the press.... Power has been
sucked into No. 10 and policy is driven by headline-grabbing
announcements. It means that checks and
balances have broken down, and that leads to ill-considered policy -- most
tragically in Tony Blair's policy towards Iraq."
"Last Chance To Hold Blair To Account"
A commentary in the left-of-center Guardian
held (7/19): "Tomorrow MPs will have
perhaps a final opportunity to probe the prime minister when they debate the
Butler report.... A lack of
understanding of the complexities of foreign affairs is a more depressing
answer. Then there is perhaps the most
likely answer, the 'don't rock the boat for Tony' school of politics. Iraq is seen through the prism of Blair's
future.... But this war, of all wars,
with the tens of thousands killed, with the botched diplomacy, dubious legality
and flimsy intelligence, was always much more important that the legacy of a
British prime minister. As they prepare
for tomorrow's debate, Labour MPs should ponder those priorities."
"A Breach Of The Peace"
Philippe Sands, professor of law at University
College London suggested in the left-of-center Guardian (7/19): "The Butler report raises more questions
than it answers. But we can now say
this: even on the widely discredited basis put forward for the lawfulness of
going to war -- Iraq's material breach of its security council obligations --
the use of force could not be justified.
In March 2002 the government proceeded on the basis that a claim of
material breach required incontrovertible proof of large-scale WMD
activity. A year later Blair departed
from that standard. The government
should now publish all the advice."
Conservative tabloid Daily Mail
editorialized (7/19): "We should
not be surprised that a Prime Minister who sent British troops to fight in Iraq
on the basis of a lie has gone to such extreme lengths to influence the
inquiries into why this country went to war....
The time is long overdue for Parliament to bring Mr. Blair properly to
account for his conduct."
Dan Plesch judged in the left-of-center Guardian
(7/15): "Once a comparative
analysis of what the British and American services were saying is undertaken,
it will become far clearer that the case for war was fabricated.... The next
question is why Whitehall officials and ministers cannot ever mention the
information provided from the U.S.?...
Are we expected to believe that the American officials at no point made
any linkage or applied any leverage on the UK?
That they were happy to help out Tony Blair with a 10-year deal on the supply of nuclear arms
and missiles without any conditions? The reality is that in our two-dimensional
world, the British will continue to march in step with Washington into future
adventures, and will find themselves accepting a new generation of nuclear
power plants and Star Wars missiles on the Yorkshire Moors, to keep the supply
of weapons of mass destruction from being interrupted. But these are matters for the grown-ups,
while the public and the press can be kept happy with the pomp and circumstance
of a report from a committee of Her Majesty's privy councillors."
"A Systems Failure At The Heart Of
Peter Hennessy, Attlee professor of contemporary
British history at Queen Mary College London, had this commentary in the
(7/16): "Perhaps the most
surprising revelation from its nearly 200 pages is the degree to which
intelligence did not pave the road to war.... British intelligence prides
itself on a core principle -- a ruling tradition almost -- that saw it through
the Second World War and the Cold War.
All raw intelligence is subjected to rigorous testing, validation and
assessment, and is served up to its ministerial customers unvarnished, however
inconvenient reading it might make. The
Butler committee thinks the road to Baghdad caused that tradition to be
tarnished. It wants it burnished and
restored. Early indications from inside
the British intelligence community suggest that this view is accepted, and it
will be put right.... The language is measured; the judgment is based on
Butler's long experience of serving closely five prime ministers (including
Tony Blair). Never has there been an
indictment to match this of a systems failure at the heart of British
An editorial in the conservative Times
held (7/16): "For two days now, the
Butler report on intelligence failures leading up to the Iraq war has been
sluicing through Whitehall like a wave of highly astringent mouthwash..... The Butler report will be carefully noted by
historians for its candid criticism of Downing Street's government by clique;
and of that cliques fatal detachment from a Civil Service that, for all its
faults, could and should have been used better..... Britain now needs a less charmed circle
around its chief executive, and more personal accountability when grave errors
of judgment are exposed. This is not a
debate about whether the British Prime Minister is now more 'presidential', but
whether he is accountable."
"It Is Time For Tony Blair To Leave
A commentary in the left-of-center Guardian
stated (7/16): "Former Conservative
foreign secretary Douglas Hurd calls for Tony Blair's resignation.... Contrary to the prime minister's assertion,
the world is a more dangerous place because of the Anglo-American invasion of
Iraq..... We delivered Iraq from tyranny, and introduced it to insurgency and
terrorism. That is not an easy
equation.... Like Anthony Eden with
Suez, Tony Blair persuaded himself and led us into a military adventure based
on a misreading of Middle Eastern politics and of British interests.... His reputation and the reputation of British
politics would be immensely enhanced if he could now find the humility and
courage to draw a line under the controversy by leaving No.10."
"Who Can Restrain President Blair?
An editorial in the conservative tabloid Daily
Mail stated (7/16): "There is
nobody to make Tony Blair resign and nothing to stop him blundering again in
the future.... In any well-ordered
democracy, the admission of such a devastating mistake would be enough to
trigger a resignation. After all, this
wasn't about some minor piece of legislation.
This was about sending our soldiers to die in a foreign land. But this
is Blairland, where the standards and decencies that once ensured a proud
record of integrity in public life are contemptuously ignored. As Butler makes unequivocally clear, Mr.
Blair has driven a coach and horses through our constitution in five crucial
areas.... Resign? Of course Mr. Blair
won't resign. There is nobody to make
him. And nothing to stop him blundering
"In The Long Term, Blair Will Pay The Price"
The center-left Independent editorialized (7/15): "It is the lack of bite, the refusal to
find fault, that destroys the value of this report, along with the meager and
over-generalized recommendations.... So
many faults, so little responsibility:
the age-old escape route of the establishment. Little wonder that both the prime minister
and the intelligence community were so quick to accept the report's
recommendations in full.... It is a
litany of error and self-delusion every bit as bad as that found last week by
the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.
Only in Britain's case, our committee has chosen to find no fault either
with the intelligence chiefs or the politicians who produced the climate in
which they cut such corners. It won't
wash. John Scarlett's reputation, in
particular, is surely too badly damaged for him to perform as Britain's spy
chief. Nor can the prime minister escape
the implications as smoothly as his performance in Parliament yesterday
implied. In the short run, he may make
it to the summer recess without too much direct parliamentary damage. But over the longer term he has still to
answer the crucial question of how and why the country was taken to war on what
is now clearly established as a false prospectus. Lord Butler's report can only add to the public's
sense of being misled. As Mr. Blair said
himself, it is a question of trust not judgment. Exactly."
"Blair Did Not Lie -- But He Did Britain A
The conservative Daily Telegraph took
this view (7/15): "The key charge
made by the anti-war lobby--that Mr. Blair wilfully and mendaciously took this
country to war either knowing that Iraq did not pose a threat or indifferent as
to whether it did or not--has been dismissed by Butler, as it was by Lord
Hutton. Mr. Blair relied heavily on this
conclusion in his statement yesterday and asked that accusations that he either
lied or acted in bad faith should finally be laid to rest. We agree.
However, that does not exonerate Mr. Blair from blame for the slipshod
processes and slapdash presentation over which he has presided. His biggest error was to draw the
intelligence community directly into what was essentially a political
judgment. Hundreds of hours and millions
of words have now been expended on a semantic merry-go-round to establish whether
the intelligence about Iraq's capabilities and intentions was accurate. Unsurprisingly, given its nature and the
difficulties of extracting it, the intelligence on Iraqi WMD has been shown up
to be less certain that Mr. Blair would have had the country believe.... It is often forgotten that there was much in
the dossier that was entirely uncontroversial, sober and unchallengeable. Interestingly, one piece of intelligence that
has been widely accepted to have been false because it was said to have been
based on forged documents--that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from
Niger--Butler says was true after all.
For those who wanted a definitive condemnation of Mr. Blair's decision
to go to war, Butler's report will inevitably prove disappointing, but they
cannot dismiss it as a 'whitewash'.... A
future government may well feel it necessary to publish intelligence
assessments in order better to inform the country about a decision of equal
gravity. So, it is important that Mr.
Blair, in the coming months, demonstrates that he is serious about learning the
lessons of this sorry episode."
The conservative Times contended
(7/15): "While Mr. Blair may not
have positively embellished the intelligence to make his case, he certainly
deleted any doubts. He has yet to
explain why he did so, but he was right yesterday to take responsibility for
the errors in a controversial document.
It is now time for Britain and Iraq to move on."
"Lessons Blair Must Learn"
The left-of-center Guardian held
(7/15): "But for all their fine
chiseling, the former cabinet secretary's findings throw a harsh light on Tony
Blair's conduct of government, as well as on the performance of the
intelligence agencies.... He concludes
the failings were collective. The danger
of that approach is that no one will have responsibility for putting things
right.... Lord Butler has laid bare a
style of government that is both unaccountable and dangerous. Mr. Blair sounded unapologetic in the Commons
yesterday. We can only hope that
underneath the combative veneer the true message of Butler will sink in."
"A Lot Of Sand In The Whitehall
The independent Financial Times
editorialized (7/15): "The report
recommends building up and supporting such international organizations, as well
as strengthening human intelligence gathering and assessment. Another sensible recommendation is that the
chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee should be 'very senior' and
'demonstrably beyond influence'.... On
governance itself, Lord Butler scores a palpable hit. The closely held document-lite Blair style
reduces 'the scope for informed collective political judgment' by leaving all
but close aides out of the loop. Iraq is
as good a case study as any to prove that."
"In Good Faith"
The right-of-center tabloid Sun argued
(7/15): "Two things are now beyond
dispute. The prime minister did not lie
to the nation before the war on Iraq.
And the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein.... Saddam has gone. The Iraqi people are liberated and have hope
again. That is the lasting achievement
of Tony Blair and George W. Bush."
"Blair Can't Hide Behind This Butler
The center-left tabloid Daily Mirror
commented (7/15): "At least this
report does show how it happened.
Although the facts won't come as a surprise.... President Bush and his White House warriors
were intent on attacking Iraq and removing Saddam. For some reason, Tony Blair wanted to go along
with them.... Tony Blair genuinely
thinks that the Butler report will restore the trust he has lost among
voters. No, it won't. For they, just as genuinely, believe he is no
longer trustworthy. That will be seen in
today's two by-elections. It is a
dialogue of the deaf--between a prime minister convinced he is right and
millions who think he is not being straight with them. Only one person can sort that out--Tony
Blair. And he won't do it by hoping Lord
Butler's report will clear his name."
"Will Blair Ever Be Believed Again?"
The conservative tabloid Daily Mail
editorialized (7/15): "His
Lordship's 200-page report on the blunders, misjudgments, blatant economies
with the truth and the corruption of our system of government is a devastating
indictment of how Britain was misled into a disastrous war. Behind the elliptical, understated
mandarin-speak, his findings are truly shocking. Not only was the intelligence on Iraq
'seriously flawed', but the Government also pushed it to the 'outer limits' in
a dossier that was sexed up both by cynical omissions and that 'eye-catching'
45-minute claim.... Butler--because of
the cunningly drawn narrowness of his remit--has avoided the crucial issue of
the political judgments that took Britain to war.... Will anyone now believe Mr. Blair if he warns
of a genuine threat to national security?
Will anyone trust him if he says the intelligence was compelling, as
next time it might be?... But nobody
here takes responsibility for anything.
And after four inquiries it is glaringly obvious that nobody ever
will. The electorate should take note
and act accordingly."
"Butler Verdict Leaves Arrogant Blair
Bereft Of Any Credibility"
The left-of-center tabloid Daily Express
contended (7/15): "The Butler
report shames no individuals but it is not a whitewash. We have been given a devastating critique of
how Tony Blair misused our intelligence services to take us to war. His credibility has been torn to
shreds.... The arrogant Mr. Blair also
left his Cabinet in the dark.... It was
not our spies who let down Tony Blair.
It was they who were betrayed by him.
We now know that we should not have believed Mr. Blair over Iraq. What would happen now if Mr. Blair told us
that North Korea, a very real threat to our safety, was about to aim bombs at
us? Would we believe him?"
"The Wrong Mission For Our Spies"
Former Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd commented in the independent
Financial Times (7/14):
"President George W. Bush used a tangle of arguments that together
were enough to rally most Americans.
Only now are Congress and the public beginning to unpick this
tangle. Mr. Blair, faced with the House
of Commons and a skeptical public opinion, had to be more specific.... The intelligence proved wrong on some points,
exaggerated on others. This has been bad
for Mr. Blair, who can defend himself, and for the intelligence services, which
cannot.... But its people will now hope
that Lord Butler explains clearly how they were put in a position that they did
not seek and for which they were inadequately equipped."
"Whatever Butler's Verdict, Blair Will Know No Shame"
Columnist Simon Jenkins commented in the conservative Times
(7/14): "I expect the [Butler
report] tomorrow to reverse Hutton.
Everyone who fabricated the case for invading Iraq will be blamed. Then each will be individually let off the
hook. Good, Mr. Blair will say with
relief, and go back to work.... Whatever
conclusion is reached, Mr. Blair will regard any charge of manipulating
intelligence as just another embarrassment among the many that afflict him over
Iraq.... Mr. Blair must be the least
embarrassable politician in history. He
knows no shame.... Mr. Blair’s slavish
following of Mr. Bush continues to mystify analysts.... How was it that liberal, multilateralist
Britain could find himself hitched to so reckless and ill-prepared a neocon
adventure? What had got into Mr.
Blair?... Mr. Blair reasserted his
rectitude on Iraq yesterday and will do so until his dying day. He will do so to any inquiry and any
judge. There is only one verdict he
respects and that is from a jury that returns on election day. Until then, 'I have not the slightest doubt
that I am honestly in the right' must pass muster."
"A Failure Of The System"
Jonathan Freedland opined in the left-of-center Guardian
(7/14): "That Iraq has now become a
boil aching for the lance is now widely accepted. The question is, how? One option would be for Tony Blair to perform
the procedure on himself. That would
entail a speech expressing the frankest possible contrition: 'I told you Saddam Hussein was a threat and I
sincerely believed it--but I was mistaken'....
Only that degree of honesty would do the job. Yet how many of us can imagine the prime
minister making such a speech?... That
leaves just one course of action: a
change of leader. Luckily for Labor,
the war is tied so closely to Blair that his departure would, by itself, signal
a close to the Iraqi chapter.... There
is a last, larger reason to lance this boil, by whichever means. The plain truth is this: British troops went to kill and be killed
last year on a false premise.... So far
that act has brought no consequences on its perpetrators.... This suggests a failure of our very system of
governance: it allowed a government to
go to war in defiance of its people and on a false pretext and get away with
it. The system needs to prove that it
can correct itself, and do it soon."
"Blair Cannot Hope To Put Iraq Behind Him Until He Owns
The center-left Independent editorialized (7/14): "For more than a year, the two key
questions relating to the origins of the war in Iraq have remained
unanswered: why was the intelligence so
wrong? And why did Tony Blair believe it
with such an apparent passion and present it to the public without any
qualifications? Lord Butler’s report and
Mr. Blair’s response to it might provide the answers.... For the intelligence agencies, hugely
important lessons are there to be learned.
The world is more dependent than ever on accurate intelligence--the
United States and Britain are not very good at delivering it. The report last week by the Senate committee
into U.S. intelligence was devastating in its castigation of the CIA and 'group
think' that led it to assume that Saddam possessed WMD. Lord Butler will only open himself to
ridicule if he does not make at least a hint of the same criticisms in
his. Mr. Blair seeks to move on from the
origins of the war in Iraq. He cannot do
so, and will not deserve to do so until he and senior intelligence officials
acknowledge their errors--and demonstrate convincingly that they will learn
"FRANCE: The Spiral Of
Right-of-center Le Figaro carried a
commentary by Alexandre Adler stating (7/21):
"The Butler Report in Great Britain...and Congress’ investigations
in the U.S...are the best proof of a democracy at work...in that the people are
able to judge the actions of their leaders with information that is truthful
and more or less complete.… These investigative reports say, in effect, that
neither Bush nor Blair consciously or deliberately lied to the people. They
sincerely believed (as did the French authorities for that matter) that Saddam
Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and was ready to use them.… In the
case of the U.S. the problem lies with Vice President Cheney’s 'task force'
that he wrongly created instead of simply letting the intelligence services do
their work.… There has been, both in London and in Washington, a tendency to
excessive propaganda that dishonors great democracies.… Winston Churchill
taught us that there is a virtue even greater than courage and that is the love
of freedom which goes hand in hand with the love of truth.”
“It’s The Spies’ Fault…”
Pierre Rousselin asserted in right-of-center Le
Figaro (7/16): "If one is to believe the conclusions of the
investigative commissions in the U.S. and in Britain, it is the spies’ fault.…
The explanation is just a tiny bit too easy. And even if we accepted this, can
we accept the idea that leaders such as Bush and Blair let themselves be
bluffed by their own intelligence services? The Butler commission, just like
the Senate’s, has reached one of its goals: one can be certain that their
budgets will soon be considerably increased. But this consolation prize will
not be enough for our allies’ master spies. They can expect to be playing the
role of the accused when the next international crisis rolls around. Meanwhile
public opinion remains skeptical.… The next time a world leader will want to enter
into a conflict, there will be those who will say: ‘remember Iraq.’
Unfortunately this will happen even if the intervention is warranted. Neither
investigation has really answered the one true question: under what
circumstances is a preventive war like the war in Iraq justified? While the
quality of intelligence will always be essential, the political responsibility
of the decision continues to rest on the shoulders of both Bush and Blair. Both
based their decisions on false information. They did not lie deliberately.
Their integrity is not in question. This was the main goal of the
investigations. But will pointing a finger at the spies be enough to protect
the leaders’ credibility? The voters will decide."
"'Teflon Tony' Went To War in Good Faith"
Catherine Agnes Poirier observed in
left-of-center Liberation (Internet version, 7/15): "British politicians and the press had
been waiting feverishly for weeks to learn the conclusions of the Butler
report.... Always with the same question
on their lips: will 'Teflon Tony' again
emerge unscathed? The answer would
appear to be yes. After the Hutton
report in January, the report by this other peer of the realm, Lord Butler,
again takes the view that Tony Blair and Downing Street 'acted in good faith'
and have nothing to blame themselves for.....
In the House of Commons, Tony Blair said he 'accepted' the conclusions
of the Butler report and had to concede, for the first time, that 'Iraq perhaps
did not have stocks of weapons of mass destruction at the time of going to
war.' But he was careful not to go into
the details of Lord Butler's conclusions, remaining on his favored field of
defending his good faith. 'On the other
hand I cannot say, in all honesty, that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was a
mistake'.... Yet, when the report states
publicly that it is 'concerned' at the style of a government whose 'informal
procedures...reduced the collective capacity of the cabinet to reach a
political judgment,' it is indeed a method of governance that is being called
GERMANY: "The Coalition Of The Frail"
Peter Muench concluded in an editorial in
center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (7/19): "The coalition
of the willing has turned into a coalition of the frail. As a matter of fact, an increasing number of
countries are unwilling to fight in a war whose beginning was built on lies and
whose end is not foreseeable.... At
issue is the enormous political pressure to which almost all governments are
exposed that marched into the war together with George W. Bush. After reports of the Butler Commission and
the Senate Committee officially helped erode the reasons for the war, not only
the governments in Washington and London are faced with a credibility problem. All governments that followed the United
States must at least justify before their people why they naively or for
opportunistic reasons followed the Americans.
A year ago, the United States exerted pressure on the war opponents, and
today it makes life problematic for the war supporters.... Nobody should be
surprised at the crumbling of this coalition, but every satisfaction would be
wrong either. It is not only Washington
but also the Iraqi transition government that urgently needs military and political
support. Following the war…the stabilization
of the country remains the great task."
"Error And Failure"
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger argued in a
front-page editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (7/16):
"Two things must be recalled: In
the past, the intelligence services systematically underestimated Iraqi
armament activities, resulting in an overly pessimistic exaggeration now. Iraq's obstructionist behavior offered
another reason to be suspicious. But
Bush and Blair's fixation on Iraq can be understood only against the background
of 9/11. Even if people worked in
high-level positions in Washington to develop ideas on the Middle East in the
90s whose pivotal point was Iraq -- without the terrorist attack on 9/11, there
probably would have been no Iraq war, at least not in this form.... 9/11 created a totally different political
climate overnight.... It was also said
that, following the failure to find WMD, the issue of pre-emption is no longer
relevant. It will have settled at the
latest if information of the intelligence services, which are the basis of
political decision, have an 'Iraqi' quality.
Skeptical parliamentarians and suspicious voters will no longer simply
believe what their governments say and no longer trust them blindly if they
talk about a fatal threat in Asia, Africa or elsewhere and want to do something
about it. The irony is that these
threats really exist, but they have turned into a matter of belief.... It is easily said the intelligence services
must deliver 'first-rate,' i.e. reliable information to politics. This is difficult but also
indispensable. It is also indispensable
to agree on rules how threats…can be defused.
This is theoretically the easy lesson from the 'Bush, Blair And The
Intelligence services' case. But it will
be difficult to realize in practice."
"Policy Of The Intelligence Services"
Thomas Kielinger argued in an editorial in
right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (7/16): "It would be an error to
believe that George W. Bush and Tony Blair would now conclude from the Iraq
debacle of the intelligence services that the 'pre-emptive' war option must now
be abandoned. This is by no means the
case. In an election campaign speech on
March 5, 2004, Blair rejected the non-interference principle in the domestic
affairs of other nations. 'Rogue states'
and 'failing' state structures are the new global threat. And he reiterated in the House of Commons
that it would be irresponsible to wait until these dangers become relevant. But
London and Washington will certainly have to bid farewell to using the
intelligence services as an instrument for their policies. This will damage and undermine confidence in
both institutions. All CIA officials who
were interviewed by the Senate Commission spoke of pressure or a climate of
pressure to which they felt exposed....
The experiment of using the intelligence services for political purposes
has failed. The publication of traditionally
confidential talks, as has now happened in the British case, can help even
less. Much confidence has been put at
risk, confidence politicians now urgently need."
"Look Back Without Anger"
Washington correspondent Malte Lehming filed the
following editorial for centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (7/16): "It is time for a clarification: Neither
George W. Bush nor Tony Blair lied before the Iraq war. Their allegations on Saddam's WMD were based
on [insufficient] intelligence information....
In view of the overall scandal this is a surprising conclusion.... The truth was distorted and the threat was
demagogically blown up, but they did not lie, i.e. they did not say anything
contrary to better knowledge. People,
who notoriously condemn a person even before the conclusion of a trial, say
that it does not make a difference. But
they are wrong. Those who have an
unspoilt moral know that there is a difference.
Following the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration was fixated on
Iraq. But during this fixation it lost
all norms and the ability to weigh things without anger and zeal. Those who criticize this fact, should not
make the same mistake."
Gerd Zitzelsberger editorialized in center-left Sueddeutsche
Zeitung of Munich (7/15):
"Given the establishment background of the Butler committee and the
vague tasks it had, this soft outcome was foreseeable. That's not the only reason why it won't convince
Britons. What's about the allegation
that shortly before the war started the government held back intelligence
information that could have cleared Saddam?
No comment from Butler. During
the heated debate in 2002, Tony Blair had promised people transparent and
honest information. The government did
not deliver--even when we look at it in most friendly way. It is not the first time that Blair's
promises differ hugely from reality. His
reputation is declining more and more."
London correspondent Thomas Kielinger opined in right-of-center Die
Welt of Berlin (7/15): "Butler
did not criticize the government, but intelligences authorities. That's serious and also shattered the prime
minister's judgment. Blair cannot feel
flattered, reading in the report that the decisive Iraq dossier in September
2002 gave readers the impression that the intelligence basis was fuller and
firmer than it actually was. However you
want to see it, it was deception and Blair believed in it.... Blair still believes it was right to go to
war. That honors him, but it won't
satisfy his critics, and the debate will continue. Intelligence services disgraced themselves in
the U.S. and Britain."
ITALY: "Saddam’s WMD,
Blair And Government Exonerated"
Luigi Ippolito commented in centrist, top-circulation Corriere
della Sera (7/15):
“It’s just like an Agatha Christie novel: a new corpse emerges in every page. The only difference is that even after we’ve
gotten to the last line, we discover that no one is guilty. And it’s useless to ask the butler, because
although Lord Butler affirmed that everyone is accountable, he exonerated
single individuals from blame--from Tony Blair on down.... In conclusion, the Butler Commission produced
a strange creature: a report that is
highly critical of intelligence gathering and of the use the Blair government
made of intelligence to justify the war.
But the report neither drew political conclusions, nor did it ‘name and
"Iraq, Blair Partially Exonerated"
Alberto Pasolini Zanelli observed in pro-government, leading
center-right daily Il Giornale (7/15):
“Washington made an admission, London is now confirming it. Following the U.S. Congress’ report last
week, the commission led by Lord Butler issued its own report at the conclusion
of a six-month probe into the ‘evidence’ on the existence of Iraq’s
WMD.... The conclusion was revolutionary
a year ago and today it is obvious: Iraq
did not possess chemical and biological weapons and it was not in the process
of producing them. There is no proof
whatsoever of links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida.”
"Spies Bungled It"
Andrey Zlobin wrote in reformist Vremya Novostey
(7/15): "Tony Blair has had his
reputation dented badly. But few people
in Britain doubted that he would get away with it. There have been several such inquiries, and
he has survived all. After occupying
Iraq, London and Washington, within days of each other, launched inquiries into
their prewar intelligence-gathering activities.
The report of the U.S. commission will come out next year, after the
presidential elections. But even now you
can guess what will be in it.
Yesterday's report by the Butler inquiry almost word for word repeats
the statement the U.S. Senate's intelligence committee made a few days
ago.... In the case of Iraq, U.S. and
British intelligence services could sense their state leaders having set their
minds on war. So they made sure that the
information they supplied could justify any armed intervention. Lord Hutton noted that in his report back in
"Blair Claims Responsibility, Feels Safe"
Aleksandr Reutov observed in business-oriented Kommersant
(7/15): "Blair ostentatiously
ignored Lord Butler suggesting that the head of government not be blamed for
intelligence having screwed up. Blair
said he was responsible for the mistakes made by the intelligence service. He could afford that now, knowing the
findings of the parliamentary commission."
Foreign affairs writer Markus Bernath commented in liberal Der
Standard (7/15): "For the
second time, an investigative committee has assured the British prime minister
that responsibility for the Iraq war does not lie with the head of
government...but...with the intelligence services that did a sloppy job, failed
to adequately confirm information, present and understand it. The prime minister, on the other hand, Lord
Butler concluded...had 'acted in good faith.'
The Brezhnev-like turn of politics has made amazing progress since the
Iraq crisis in 2002, and the following war.
In Soviet manner, as practiced at the desk of the former Communist Party
leader, Tony Blair, in a way not unlike Republican George W. Bush, has lined up
cheers for his pro-war arguments and dismissed critics as being on the wrong
track. Turning the political
responsibility into a technical responsibility of the intelligence services in
Great Britain and the U.S. has serious consequences: Washington as well as London diminish their
options when it comes to dealing with existing or developing nuclear powers
such as North Korea or Iran. What material
can they use to advocate sanctions, when their intelligence services already
failed in Iraq?"
"The Secret Services Provided 'Truths On Order'"
Senior editor Helmut L. Mueller argued in independent Salzburger
Nachrichten (7/15): "The
investigative committees in London and Washington are making scapegoats of the
intelligence services. The agents
exaggerated the danger posed by Saddam Hussein:
that is the tenor on both sides of the Atlantic. But...whitewashing actions like the one for
Tony Blair cannot wipe out the fact that the leading politicians bear the sole
responsibility for the decision to go to war.
This is why the investigations into the Iraq war miss the point if they
do not accurately illuminate the role of the governments in Washington and
London. Normally, the information
provided by the intelligence services is used as a guideline for political
decisions. This time, it was the other
way around: there were political demands
and the services provided 'truths on order.'"
BELGIUM: "The CIA Got it All Wrong As Well"
correspondent Alain Campiotti opined in left-of-center Le Soir (7/16):
"George Bush is like a little boy who would fill up a hole in a dam with
his finger to avoid a catastrophe. For Bush, the disaster would be an electoral
one. To avoid this, the President constantly repeats - seven times in half a
day last Monday in Tennessee - that the world is a safer place since Saddam
Hussein was ousted from power. Repeating the same thing had worked when he kept
on claiming that the Iraqi dictator had ties with Al Qaeda: a majority of
Americans eventually believed it as well. But he is less successful now.
Military analysts consider that insecurity is greater than before the war and
public opinion tends to believe them. And to consider that the world is safer
now, one needs to demonstrate that the Iraqi dictatorship was a deadly threat
to the world. The ongoing revelations about the British and American
intelligence services seriously undermine this theory.... The report that the U.S. Senate Intelligence
Commission just released is devastating. On almost all subjects, the CIA was
wrong... But why? That is the major question that the bipartisan commission
refused to address. Its Republican members managed to postpone - until after
the elections! -- investigations on possible pressure from the Administration
that led the CIA to paint a black picture of the situation, like those who were
in favor of the war wanted."
Foreign affairs writer Fabian Lefevere asserted
in independent De Morgen (7/16): "Tony Blair got away with it
again. The Butler report fully denounces
the way the British plunged into the Iraq war, but it does not mention the
names of those who are responsible for that.
In such circumstances it is gratuitous for Blair to declare whole-heartedly
that he accepts the conclusions.... It
is no surprise that Butler took care not to hurt the 'powers that be' -
especially because of the fact that Lord Butler's investigation is immersed in
hypocrisy. As of the start the
investigation was totally futile because Blair himself shaped the composition
of the commission and its mandates. A
crucial factor was that Lord Hutton's investigation - which acquitted Blair
completely - could not be repeated. That
is a schoolbook example of genuine Machiavellianism. And, should there have been any members of
the commission who might be tempted to tackle Blair, the Prime Minister avoided
that beforehand with the composition of that commission.... Some of them are traditional British 'stiff
upper lips' who prefer not to damage the establishment of which they themselves
are members.... By the time of the
elections in Great Britain next spring, Butler and Hutton will practically be
forgotten and the things that really matter will prevail again: Blair's third
"Neither Guilty Nor
Foreign editor Gerald Papy opined in independent
La Libre Belgique (7/15):
"The conclusions of the Butler commission in Great Britain and of
the U.S. Senate one are similar: if
erroneous information on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and on ties between
Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida was used by Tony Blair and George Bush to justify
the war in Iraq, the MI6 and CIA intelligence services are to blame. The former overestimated doubtful
information, the latter hid what did not correspond to what the Administration
wanted.... But can any reasonable person
be satisfied with the conclusions of the U.S. Senate Commission that did not
detect any political pressure on the CIA or with the findings of the Butler
Commission that did not find any 'deliberate distortion' of the facts? According to these commissions, the only
thing Messrs. Bush and Blair could be blamed for is for having blindly trusted
their intelligence services.... At the same
time, the exhortations for caution from the leaders of the UN disarmament
commission, Messrs Blix and el Baradei, who had dozens of inspectors in the
field, were not listened to--simply because neither Blair nor Bush, obsessed by
their pre-defined strategy, wanted to hear them. Therefore, is it normal to clear them of any
Foreign editor Paul De Bruyn remarked in the
conservative Christian-Democrat Gazet van Antwerpen (7/15): "Iraq has broken something between Tony
Blair and the British people. For six
years he was untouchable and a man in whom the people believed and whom they
trusted. Today, Blair has lost his
credibility. His authority has been
undermined.... Blair will not have much
respite. If Labor receives a blow in two
interim elections today his opponents will have new ammunition against
him. That is Tony Blair's tragedy. He wanted to make British society better and
fairer. He has achieved a lot. Millions of jobs have been created. The school system is better. Health care is improving. All that, however, threatens to be
overshadowed by Iraq. That is a very
high price for one mistake."
"Those Reports That Bother Bush And
Baudouin Loos noted in left-of-center Le Soir
(7/13): "Last Friday, the U.S.
Senate report on intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction has
confirmed the massive destruction of the other justification of the American
'hawks' for attacking Iraq, i.e., the direct threat that Saddam Hussein's
weapons of mass destruction represented.
And indeed, these weapons have never been found.... The U.S. Senate's report is not complete. A second part pertaining to what use high
officials of the Administration made of this--erroneous--intelligence is not
ready. In that second part, the CIA is
reportedly being blamed for not having transmitted to Bush information supplied
by Iraqis according to which Baghdad had given up developing weapons of mass
destruction. This report, which is
likely to be politically devastating, will probably not be released until after
the November 2 presidential election."
"Iraq Belongs In The Category Of Vietnam
Chief editor Peter Vandermeersch in
Christian-Democrat De Standaard editorialized (7/13): "The U.S.
Senate report carefully avoids the question whether the White House sexed up or
interpreted wrongly the information that it received about weapons of mass
destruction. To avoid problems, that
part will be investigated after the elections.
However, it is a fact that the CIA reported to the White House that
there was no definite link between al-Qaida and Iraq - something that George
Bush and his close teammates continued to claim. Tomorrow, a similar report will be published
in Great Britain. Lord Butler's report
might very well be an echo of the American investigation.... At best,
amateurism, perhaps ignorance and probably even bad will prevailed in the small
decision-making centers of both superpowers to start this unjustified war. It is a complete shame that all this could be
done unpunished. It is true that the CIA
boss has resigned - but he left with congratulations from his President. In Great Britain the former chief of the
intelligence services, John Scarlett, will be the boss of MI6 in the near
future. It is becoming increasingly clear that Iraq belongs in the category of
Vietnam and Watergate - with scandals in which high-level authorities
systematically lied to the people. These
were two sad episodes during which a gap was created between politics and
public opinion. The additional scandal
in Iraq has only deepened that gap."
"Iraqi Facts. Now A
Petr Pesek wrote in the center-right daily Lidove Noviny
(7/15): "Iraqi regime of Saddam
Hussein probably did not have the forbidden weapons of mass destruction, but it
strived to acquire them. The realistic
conclusion is included in the British investigation report of Lord Butler.... PM Blair came out of this investigation more
or lease cleared, but his credibility has suffered substantially. And what if there is a need to act against
another dangerous regime? Better perhaps
not to present any evidence at all."
"Bond Was Not Allowed To Go To Iraq"
Martin Novak opined in the business daily Hospodarske Noviny
(7/15): "It's hard to guess what
James Bond would say to the fact that 'his' MI6 is facing tough criticism for
information it supplied to the British prime minister. Lord Butler could not have asked him, nor can
he answer all questions about the intelligence reporting. The investigations in both the UK and the
U.S. suggest that the intelligence services relied on information sources that
were not all that trustworthy. It
doesn't make sense to criticize the effort for changing the regime in Iraq on
the grounds that no WMD were found there, nor to ridicule the intelligence
services. What does make sense is to
learn from the mistakes. Criticism often
helps improve the state of things.
Hopefully it will apply in the case of intelligence services, too."
Liberal Magyar Hirlap concluded (7/15): “It should be noted that one of the players
who had a key role in the Iraq war has not yet revealed his own set of
arguments to the public. The person in
question is Saddam Hussein. He could
finally explain why did he hinder the weapon inspectors in their efforts to try
to find the nothing. The problem was not
the war itself. The world finally became freed from a bloody handed brutal
dictator. The problem was that
stabilization was messed up afterwards, mainly due to the fact that not enough
soldiers were sent to post-war Iraq.
There is another, more important development, though which does not
change the situation at all. Manila is
withdrawing its contingent from Iraq because a Philippine truck-driver has been
taken hostage. The consequence of the
troop withdrawal will be more hostage-taking actions, whereas the ‘consequence’
of the Butler report will only be pile of studies and books.”
The newspaper of record Aftenposten commented (7/15): "Even if Blair has been cleared of
deliberately juicing up intelligence materials, just as he was with the Hutton
report in January, it looks worse for the American allegations about a
connection between the regime in Iraq and the terrorist organization
al-Qaida. To see Saddam Hussein as a
troublesome future threat was not altogether impossible. To evaluate him as so serious that rule of
law had to be set aside, raises other and more serious questions. They have not yet been answered, including
in yesterday's report."
"Best Against Terror?"
The business independent Dagens Naeringsliv
commented (7/15): "Less than a week apart, the American Senate
intelligence committee and the British investigation committee led by Lord
Butler delivered their evaluations of the intelligence which laid the basis for
the invasion of Iraq. Both reports are
devastating in their criticism. Most of
the main evaluations in the American intelligence assessments before the
invasion regarding Iraq's WMD were exaggerated or were not supported by
intelligence reports.... Despite the
criticism, President George W. Bush came out with a strong defense of the
invasion on Monday. He continues to think that the invasion of Iraq was right
and is the main reason why both the U.S. and the world at large are
safer.... And despite the criticism:
most Americans think President Bush is the best one to tackle terror.... How the British will reward Tony Blair when
the Butler report is digested remains to be seen in the next few days. Both Bush and Blair deserve to be fired, but
voters forgive the most incredible things, and once again much can happen in
both countries before they might be re-elected."
"Spies Out In The Cold"
The independent Dagbladet noted (7/15): "It's possible that Tony Blair did not
lie outright. That doesn't mean he
should stay in office. Great Britain
went to war on a mistaken basis, and the responsibility for that does not stop
with the intelligence services. Blair
may find it necessary to apologize for letting himself be led astray by his
exaggerated belief in the threat that Saddam Hussein represented. He should regret that he saw what he wanted
to see, and admit that he stretched intelligence to get better arguments for
what he thought was right--to go to war at Bush's side. Then it will be up to the voters to decide if
they are served by having a man who--in good faith or not--was so wrong on the
"Devastating Criticism Of The CIA"
The independent VG observed (7/11): "The report from the American Senate
committee on the CIA's role before the U.S. went to war against Iraq last March
is devastating for the intelligence organization. The Senate Committee...concludes that the
CIA's analyses of the situation in Iraq were completely wrong and
exaggerated.... To put it mildly, it's
scary that the world's sole existing superpower went to war on the basis of
such poor and inadequate intelligence as this report indicates.... Many will opine that Bush and the CIA
suffered from a collective group-think which built up Iraq as a great threat to
the peace of the world. The result of the
Americans' decision to go to war against Iraq on such flimsy grounds has already
had serious consequences. The U.S.A.'s
trustworthiness as a superpower is seriously weakened. As even Rockefeller concluded, so has the
U.S.A.'s stature in the world community never been lower. The war on Iraq has cultivated a hate against
Americans in the Muslim world which is directly frightening. The war that was supposed to serve world
peace has instead contributed to the opposite.
The terror and the threat picture we see daily are in large part created
by the hate many now have for the U.S. The
war opened wounds that will take many years to heal. The superpower has shot itself in the
"A Half Report"
The independent Dagbladet editorialized (7/11): "The main point is not that the
intelligence service was sloppy in dealing with the facts.... The question now is to what degree the
politicians got the intelligence information they asked for. Was the information that supported an
invasion used diligently--while information that spoke against an invasion
thrown out? An administration that has
decided to go to war will naturally not want to hear counter-arguments.... The separate investigation on how much
intelligence was misused, distorted or exaggerated by political decision-makers
will not be issued until November--when the presidential election is over. It's too bad for the American democracy that
the Senate's report only raises half the reality."
"Responsibility For Mistakes"
Center-left daily Diário de Notícias columnist Francisco
Sarsfield Cabral opined (7/14):
"Much has already been said about Bush’s mistakes relating to
Iraq. But it is worth it to look at them
as a whole.... If the intelligence
services functioned poorly (as had already happened on September 11), the
political responsibility rests with the president. It is even worse if they were pressured into
saying what best suited the invasion enthusiasts. It is irresponsible to begin a war based on
such weak information.... There are
those who speak of lies and not of mistakes.
We had good faith in Bush: we are
left with the mistakes. But aren't these
too many mistakes for the president of the only superpower to make? It would be less worrisome if they were
"If He's Innocent, Why Did Blair Need To Apologize?"
In the independent daily Ziua, foreign
policy analyst Ileana Cornea opined (7/19):
"For a person who for years has taken pleasure in being named
‘Bush’s valet’ by the world media, and who behaves as such, Blair’s apology for
the exaggerated report on Iraq which led to the invasion of that country is
strange. Especially when the conclusions
of the so-called independent investigation carried out by the venerable Lord
Butler exonerated him of any responsibility linked with the respective
report. If he is as innocent as the
Butler report makes him seem, why did Blair need to apologize? For the moment, there is no sign from Big
Brother Bush that he will offer a mea culpa.
Tony Blair is now being torn between fidelity, not necessarily crucial
but traditional, towards Washington (no matters who rules there) and the fear
of losing his own mandate.… Willing to do anything to keep his position,
including apologizing for the Iraqi file, Blair did not even have the elegance
to apologize for one of the most concrete consequences of making up the Iraqi
file: David Kelly’s life."
"Butler Report Like U.S. Senate
Cristian Campeanu opined in the opposition daily
Romania Libera (7/15): “The
conclusion of the Butler Report regarding information provided by MI6 about
weapons of mass destruction are not new, as they coincide with those of the
American Senate in referring to information provided by the CIA. But unlike the American Senate, the Butler
Report says there were no links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida.”
"An Uncompleted Report"
Centrist La Vanguardia wrote (7/15): "Everything that involves the reports
about what happened before the invasion of Iraq is grotesque.... The U.S. Senate commission has, at least,
obtained some much more serious and developed conclusions than Lord Butler's
report. Maybe because of this, the
majority of public opinion shows a great skepticism when a commission of
investigation is opened."
"Manipulation Of Intelligence"
Independent El Mundo editorialized (7/15): "Neither in Blair nor in Bush have the
reports provoked the least indication of repentance for having provoked a war
with false information.... Could it be a
coincidence that both of them arrived at the same conclusions without a single
piece of solid evidence? The minimal
dismay shown by Bush and Blair in admitting that they made so grave a decision
with false information allows for the supposition that it was precisely they
who pressed to have the evidence point in a predetermined direction. If so, we would not be victims of incompetent
intelligence agencies, but rather of those responsible for such
incompetence.... To convert intelligence
services into communications offices and utilize only vague information, insufficiently
solid or balanced, provided by exiled anti-Saddam groups in order to legitimize
the war exceeds ethical limits and is an unmistakable case of
"The CIA, Scapegoat"
Conservative ABC commented (7/11): "In the war in Iraq, the reality is less
important than the perceptions, something as relevant in policy as the truth of
the facts. And the perception commonly
accepted after [the Senate report on pre-war intelligence] S-11 is that
Saddam's ambitions, not only his supposed arsenals, were becoming
SAUDI ARABIA: "Butler
The pro-government, English-language Arab News (7/15): "So that's all right then--or is
it? The WMD inquiry in Britain led by
retired top civil servant Lord Butler has concluded after a careful
investigation of the facts that the evidence on which the Blair government
joined in the U.S. invasion of Iraq was almost entirely wrong. However, Butler has gone on to conclude that
no one in the British intelligence community is specifically to blame.... No individual was culpable of misleading
anyone else.... Butler therefore has
discharged the British government from any involvement in a plot to mislead
Parliament and the voters into backing the war.
Prime Minister Tony Blair acted in good faith.... Butler even leaves open the possibility that
somewhere within the considerable land area of Iraq, WMD might still be
found. This comment resonates nicely
with Tony Blair's assertion last week that despite all the evidence to the
contrary, WMD could still exist. Only
the British can manage inquiries like this that admit to errors that absolutely
no one committed. Only a British
committee of inquiry can manage to conclude that a policy that was based on a
series of what its American counterpart described as 'catastrophic intelligence
failures' was nevertheless entirely justified.
The Butler report suggests in essence that all the British government
should be now saying is: 'Whoops! We mistakenly invaded Iraq. Sorry.'
But the Blair government is unlikely to bring itself to say any such
thing, because it is absolutely sure that in ousting Saddam Hussein, albeit at
the cost of the subsequent months of chaos and terror, it was entirely
right. What it cannot bring itself to
say unequivocally is that these were the real grounds for its support for the
Bush attack. This is because such a
move, especially when lacking UN sanction is a breach of international
law. President Bush may not fare so
well when the senatorial inquiry reports on his administration's involvement in
any massaging of intelligence to justify the invasion. But that report is likely to come after the
"Where Are The WMD In Iraq?"
Makkah’s conservative Al-Nadwa
editorialized (7/14): "We will not
be astonished if eventually it were proven that Iraq did not have any WMD. To date the CIA investigations have failed to
prove that Iraq possessed any of these weapons prior to the war.... The former Iraqi regime has been toppled, and
no secret chemical or biological weapons have been found. Not because Iraq did not own such weapons,
but because the U.S. does not want to disclose that such weapons did at some
point exist in Iraq. Since April 9, 2003
Iraq has become a part of the U.S. Iraq
now isa friend of the U.S. rather than a foe.... Preserving what is left of its weapons
program is of interest to the U.S. because these weapons now are at the
disposal of America to do with them what it sees fit."
JORDAN: "How Did They
Make The Quagmire?"
Daily columnist Jamil Nimri opined in independent, mass-appeal Al-Arab
Al-Yawm (7/15): “The Butler report
did not accuse Blair of ill intentions or misleading the British people, but it
clearly and completely showed that the war was based on false foundations. There was not any serious information indicating
that Iraq owned or developed weapons of mass destruction.... The British report complements the American
report in putting an end to the argument about justification for war. The war was launched on the basis of lies,
deceit and misinformation, and there is no other incident in the history of
those two countries (the U.S. and UK) that has so debased their democracies as
this one did. A rabid, fabricated
campaign was created from A to Z to unjustifiably launch a war. Who holds Bush and Blair accountable for the
costs of this war, both material and human?
It won’t be the United Nations or any other international organization
ruled by the same powers that allow Israel to brutalize an unarmed people and
to prolong occupation for decades without any denunciation. Only the British and American peoples can
punish these leaders in the next elections.
Now we can understand why matters in Iraq took this disastrous
turn. An action of such immorality
cannot yield moral results in war, either during its course or in the post-war
era.... A false start for a false
path. A noble and moral action, such as
claiming to save the Iraqi people from dictatorship, cannot be achieved by way
of lies, deception and misinformation.”
Dr. Yaser Al-Saleh wrote in independent Al-Rai Al-A'am
(7/13): "So many damning reports
turned up after the war in Iraq, disputing Bush and Blair's reasons for waging
war. Subsequently, the two
administrations cited spreading democracy and human rights as the main reasons
for going to war. However, the Abu
Ghraib scandal revealed that Iraqis, in the eyes of the occupiers, have no
rights, and that their tormentors enjoyed the episodes of torture. Despite all these events, neither Bush nor
Blair were thrown out of their respective posts, and no heads rolled. Does this mean that the two administrations,
the American and British are in good shape?
Or is this the beginning of the descent?"
SYRIA: "Policy Of Talk
And Political Talk"
Khaled al-Ashhab observed in government-owned Al-Thawar
(7/14): "President Bush still
insists that it was America's right to strike Iraq despite the failure of his
pretext of on Iraqi WMD. He relieved
Americans that their country's war and victims were not in vain. He speculated that Iraq might have a capability
to produce such weapons and that it might transfer them to terrorists who might
use it against America! This is not a
political talk, not even a policy of talk which requires logical preludes that
lead to a logical outcome. There are so
many countries in the world that have the capability to produce and obtain
WMD. Therefore, America needs to wage
lots of wars to provide its with such security!"
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
"Lord Butler And Mr Blair”
An editorial in the liberal Sydney Morning
Herald read (7/16): “In sum, Lord Butler has found that the Blair
Government took poor intelligence and made it worse.... In this, the British report echoes the recent
United States Senate report on the poor performance of the CIA with its
delineation of weak information compounded by feeble analysis. None of this is
a surprise. After all, no WMD have been
found. The interest is in why intelligence services got it wrong.... As an advocate for war, Mr Blair projected
rock-solid conviction. The Butler report shows that conviction was built on
sand. Such shaky foundations would have been evident to any prime minister
seeking objective information rather than arguments to support his case....
Lord Butler does not choose to point the finger at any individual. Rather he
chooses to see the intelligence failures as collective. British voters are not
likely to be so circumspect in laying the blame. They know who it was who sent
them to war in Iraq.”
"Weapons Report No Whitewash”
An editorial in the business-oriented Australian
Financial Review observed (7/16): “Another whitewash? Iraq war critics who
had hoped Lord Butler's review of intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction would charge British Prime Minister Tony Blair with lying his way
to war may think so. But in declining to do this, the Butler review echoes the
earlier Hutton report, last week's United States Senate Intelligence Committee
report, last year's report to Congress of Iraq Survey Group leader David Kay,
and the March report by Australia's joint parliamentary committee on
intelligence services.... Even so, there is much in the Butler report, as in
the earlier ones, to embarrass the governments and their intelligence
services.... If we knew then what we know now, we wouldn't have gone to war.
Whether the coalition made the correct prudential decision to go to war on the
basis of what we knew then, or whether governments allowed themselves to be
stampeded, is harder to say."
"Will Bush's Team Change Policy After Acknowledging Mistakes It
Centrist, pro-status quo China Times
noted (7/10): "The first-hand
lesson that the Bush administration has learned lately is that it is impossible
for the United States to spread its influence all over the world through only
the use of force. People inside the Bush
administration are clearly aware of the mistakes they have made. As a result, the Bush team will pull in its
horns regarding U.S. foreign relations in the next four months. Its [diplomatic] style will definitely
change even if Bush wins re-election and his team is still headed by Dick
JAPAN: "Leaders Should
Be Held Responsible for Intelligence Fraud "
Business-oriented Nihon Keizai Shimbun
editorialized (7/16): "Recent
reports of prewar intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction drafted
separately by the U.S. Senate and an independent British panel both apparently
suggest that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair should not be held
accountable for launching the Iraq war because they merely acted on faulty
intelligence. However, the intelligence
authorities are a part of the governments and under the supervision of the
president and the prime minister. Blame
should not exclusively fall on the intelligence authorities.... The two
leaders' judgment on starting the war must also be critically examined."
"Blair's Resignation In Sight"
Liberal Mainichi noted (7/15): "The report results are expected to
further fuel public distrust of Prime Minister Blair, who is now found to have
justified the Iraq war on the false premise that the Hussein regime had usable
biological and chemical weapons programs.
It is unlikely that the prime minister could recover lost political
ground and reassert his policy initiatives any time soon. Depending on public opinion, Blair might even
be forced to resign prior to a general election that could be held as early as
SOUTH KOREA: "Bush
Administration’s Deceit Confirmed By U.S. Congress"
The nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun
editorialized (7/13): “A recent
bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report confirmed that the Bush
administration invaded Iraq based on incorrect and exaggerated intelligence on
weapons of mass destruction...and that there is no evidence of links between
Iraq and al-Qaida, even indicating that such a claim originated from the White
House. This unanimous report is
especially noteworthy in that it has made clear that the U.S. administration’s
two biggest rationales for invading Iraq were totally groundless.... Nevertheless, far from apologizing to the
Iraqis and the international community for the U.S. deceit and distortion,
President Bush is repeating the same, false claims.... Well over 10,000 civilians have died since
the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Jay
Rockefeller, the Senate Committee’s Democratic member, has said that Congress
would not have approved the U.S. war on Iraq had it known what it does now,
once again proving that the U.S. invasion of the Gulf state was fundamentally
invalid and a crime against humanity. We
strongly urge the ROKG to immediately withdraw its plan to deploy Korean troops
NEW ZEALAND: "When
Good Faith Isn't Good Enough "
An editorial from the Manawatu Standard
asserted (Internet version, 7/16):
"There is plenty of evidence in the past that good intelligence has
saved lives but there is also plenty of evidence that it isn't the answer to
everything. What is troubling about the two Iraqi reports, however – apart from
the fact that no one seems to be actually to blame for anything – is that the
decision to go to war on Iraq was based largely on what the US and British
intelligence agencies had to report; that, in the end, Saddam was a clear and
present danger to his neighbourhood and to western interests because of the
weapons of mass destruction he possessed and was prepared to use. In the event,
no such weapons have been found after the United Nations was, in effect, sacked
from the task of looking for them by Washington, with London bringing up the
rear. Now it is all very well for George Bush and Tony Blair (and John Howard,
for that matter, not that he does much) to now say that they acted in good
faith based on the information they had at the time. But to launch a war? And a
war which was almost certainly an illegal action because it lacked UN support
and approval (so crucially different from what took place in Afghanistan)? Few
people will regret the passing of Saddam and his odious regime, but look at
what has happened since. Can, hand on heart, the world be said to be a safer
place today as a result of taking the road to Baghdad? Some very bad people
have been rounded up and killed, no doubt about that. And some terrorism
networks have been severely disrupted, if not broken up. But the casualties of
war, in terms of material, innocent lives and political consequences, have been
horrendous and almost entirely predictable. Given the expertise that the U.S.
and Britain were supposedly able to bring to bear on Iraq and the wider Middle
East – the British especially because of their long involvement one way or
another in the region – the magnitude of the failure of the intelligence they
had about events, and who was doing what, is surprising. Perhaps it was, and
is, lack of people on the ground and too much reliance on sophisticated
electronic and satellite information-gathering. No doubt the post-mortems will
go on for years but for the moment, what is more relevant are the fates of
Messrs Bush, Blair and Howard in their respective electorates. Both Mr Bush and
Mr Howard face elections this year. Will they be punished at the polls for what
they did? Or don't people care too much, given that Iraq is a faraway place
about which we know little? The outcome of the elections will say a lot about
the societies of the U.S., Australia and Britain, societies which are mighty
similar to our own. One more thing: It surely says something about the
attractions of our fair land that an overstayer from the tropical climes of
Tonga hid in a fridge to try to avoid deportation. He didn't, needless to say,
after eagle-eyed authorities spotted cabbages strewn over the kitchen floor and
put two and two together.
An editorial in the moderate, largest
circulation South Island Christ Church Press asserted (Internet Version,
7/16): "Now that Lord Butler and
his colleagues on the inquiry have concluded after exhaustive examination of
the evidence that Blair did not misrepresent the case for going to war, a
central charge against the Government by those who oppose the war, no doubt
Butler too will be denounced, as Lord Hutton was, as an establishment
stooge. Indeed, one English newspaper
has already headlined its front-page story on the Butler report 'Whitewash
II.'... It is a sad fact that
intelligence failures in the Middle East are chronic. Around Iraq, in
particular, in recent times the West has repeatedly been taken by surprise. The
aftermath of the first Gulf War following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait revealed an
even larger intelligence failure when United Nations inspectors discovered
advanced chemical and atomic weapons programmes no-one had been aware of. The
invasion of Kuwait itself was not predicted by Western agencies. In addition,
since the war, it has emerged that Saddam was close to obtaining rocketry from
North Korea. If he did not have weapons at the time the war broke out, it is
now known that he was using every resource he had to obtain them. Intelligence gathering is a murky, misty
business at the best of times. Obtaining reliable information from within a
country as vast as Iraq and governed by a totalitarian tyranny of the kind run
by Saddam is even more hazardous and uncertain. Even now, Butler says that only
a "rash person" would claim that stocks of biological or chemical
weapons would never be found in Iraq.
The threat of terrorism added to the danger posed by Saddam. Reliable
information about terrorist activities is even harder to find. Neither
September 11 nor the March 11 outrage in Madrid were predicted. The connections
between Saddam and al-Qaeda may, in 2003, have been tenuous, but Saddam
financed terrorism and sheltered terrorists. Bellicose dictators are not
entitled to the benefit of any doubt. The intelligence available to Blair and
Bush may not, in retrospect, have been sufficient to support the decision to go
to war. But the decision was, nonetheless, justified. Even without WMD he was
an evil, mass-murdering despot. The moral case for getting rid of him was
Obession And Intrigue"
Former Chairman Joint Intelligence Committee
Keki N.Daruwalla asserted in the nationalist Hindustan Times
(7/18): "To most observers--with
the exception of many gullible Americans--the U.S. Senate report on pre-war
intelligence on Iraq is a big yawn. A
sense of déjà vu engulfs the reader. The worthies haven't told us anything we
didn't know.... It is now believed that
within a day of taking over as president, 'regime change' in Iraq was being
discussed by the national security team. Columnists assert that Bush and Vice
President Dick Cheney had planned to attack Iraq in early 2001, long before
9/11. And weeks after 9/11, a secret unit called 'Office of Special Plans' was
set up in the Pentagon to create 'a base for invading Iraq.' Bush's statements bear testimony to his
prejudice. All this takes us into the realm of morality and metaphysics. What
does an intelligence agency do if the executive is hell-bent on war? The ideal
answer, of course, is that if intelligence on the ground does not support a
political objective, agencies should still cite facts and not tamper with
them.... Intelligence is always an easy
scapegoat. But the CIA alone is not to
blame. A reason to invade Iraq seems to
have become a national obsession, fuelled by presidential prejudice and a
collective phobia built in no small measure by the American media. Think tanks
will also have to introspect on their role. Iraqi poison gas, WMDs, mobile
biological warfare launchers were a national concoction."
"Lacking In Intelligence"
An analysis in the centrist Times Of India by K.
Subrahmanyam stated (7/19): "Never
before in its history of over five decades has the CIA come in for such
devastating criticism. The denunciation of its performance on Iraq by the
Senate intelligence committee has been unanimous with both Democrats and
Republicans joining hands.... The
intelligence assessors, it would appear, finally succumbed to the relentless
pressures from the administration....
One wonders whether the U.S. will learn from its mistakes and take
necessary steps to put in place an autonomous and independent assessment
agency. The present intelligence
structure was presumably influenced by Cold War considerations when the U.S.
was on the offensive in containing the Soviet Union. The attacks of 9/11
clearly brought into focus the stark vulnerability of the U.S. The inconclusive end to the Afghan military
operations in early 2002 and the survival of Osama bin Laden, Al Zawahiri and
other leaders of Al-Qaida ought to have alerted the US to the limitations of
its military power. The global
proliferation network should have further reinforced this message. Yet, the
obsession about Iraq and Saddam Hussein resulted in a unique lack of
professionalism in the American intelligence processing. Unless the Congress reforms the US
intelligence structure and makes assessment process autonomous, other countries
would be ill-advised to overlook this flaw while dealing with Washington."
"Senate Blasts Bush"
The Mumbai-based, left-of-center Free Press Journal
commented (7/13): "That the U.S.
has misled a whole host of countries and the United Nations on the basis of a
faulty intelligence report has made the Democrats on the committee suspect that
the Bush administration might have pressurized the CIA to write a report in
consonance with the administration's thinking.... The Senate committee has come to the
conclusion that a policy of containment was preferable to invasion. President Bush's problems in Iraq are of his
own making. Now that he finds it
difficult to extricate the U.S. from the rising flames of insurgency and
guerrilla war in Iraq, his withdrawal routes are becoming fewer by the
day. No self-respecting nation will send
its troops to serve under a U.S. commander.
Bush has to seek the help of UN.
No other way."
The Chennai-based leftist English-language News Today
editorialized (7/12): "[The Senate
report] is directed against the U.S. intelligence agencies on whose findings
Bush launched the unjust war against Saddam.
It is wrong to describe them as findings. They should instead be called
inventions.... At this point of time,
all these revelations are like crying over spilled milk. The war had been fought with a ferocity of
which savages would have been capable....
It is proof of the hegemon's arrogance that he has not expressed any
regrets. It is immaterial whether Bush
loses the elections or not. What is
lost, on the contrary, is the dignity of the U.S. and its credibility."
"Not By Truth Alone"
The centrist Telegraph editorialized (7/12): "The full impact of the U.S. Senate
Intelligence Committee's harsh criticism of American intelligence agencies
cannot be appreciated without...context.
The committee has exonerated the Bush administration of the charge of
pressurizing the agencies to produce predetermined results, but this is a
frightening indicator of the weak reasoning on which the U.S. bases its
military aggression. The first question
yet remains to be answered: what did
Saddam Hussein's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction have to do
with the post-9/11 'coalition against terror'?
It is one thing to build international strategies to fight murderous
extremists, and quite another to condemn tyrant-ruled countries to
The pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer took this view
(7/12): "That the United States'
intelligence agencies exaggerated the threat Iraq's weapons of mass destruction
(WMD) posed to their country was alleged even before the start of the American
invasion of Iraq.... What the U.S.
Senate Intelligence Committee's recent report has done is to confirm the
allegation officially and come out with sharp criticism of the agencies
concerned which overstated the threat during the run-up to the
invasion.... The report has, without
doubt, absolved the Bush administration of the charge that it had pressured
intelligence analysts to reach pre-set conclusions. One can, however, hardly expect the matter to
rest there in America's public discourse in an election year.... With the level of popular support for the
Iraq war and confidence in President George Bush's handling of it declining,
the report may well have an adverse impact on his chances of re-election."
The nationalist Hindustan Times opined (7/12): "The U.S. Senate Intelligence
Committee's report on the pre-war assessment of Iraqi weapons has told us a lot
about the failure of America's vaunted intelligence agencies. But it also tells us of America's great strength: its mature institutions which are able to
apply correctives with great rapidity....
The report rebuts the assessments of the US National Intelligence
Estimate of 2002 used by the Bush administration to publicly justify the case for an invasion.... Indian politicians...could learn a lesson or
two from the manner in which the U.S. Senate is dealing with the issue. There is partisanship, but in the interests
of rehabilitating vital national security institutions, both sides have
moderated it and come together with remarkable objectivity to examine the
problem and recommend solutions."
PAKISTAN: "Truth Is
An editorial in the Karachi-based center-left
independent national English-language daily, Dawn (7/16): "For the second time in less than a
fortnight, the Anglo-American establishments that waged a war on Iraq stand
discredited.... Iraq had no 'smoking
gun.' Evidently, the Blix report
prompted Washington and London to come up with new, contrived pretexts for a
war on Iraq ... No wonder, a war whose
premise was based on falsehood should have ended trapping the victors in a cul
de sac. The latest from Iraq is horrible
both for its people and for the occupying powers.... The provisional government does not inspire
the people's confidence. It is seen as a
tool in American hands... In Washington
and London, the powers that launched the war should now ask themselves whether
the world is more peaceful and secure today than it was before the
"Exemplary Traditions Of America,
An op-ed by Irshad Ahmad Haqqani in the leading
mass circulation Urdu-language Jang (7/16): "That the action taken by Bush and Blair
in March 2003 to attack Iraq was unjustified has now been proven from various
aspects. During the last 15 months, many
arguments given by the U.S. and the UK in favor of war have proven to be
false. In order to deceive the
international public opinion the U.S. formed an interim and sovereign
government in Iraq on June 28 but this could not deceive the Iraqi people or
the Arab and Islamic world as well as the international community. The people of the United States and the UK
itself have expressed so much resentment against Bush and Blair that could be
witnessed nowhere else. This is a
reflection of their realism and righteousness.
They have proved that Bush and Blair are not as dear to them as is
humanity, peace and tenets of truthfulness. Various inquiry reports conducted
in these two countries also proved that the traditions of accountability of the
leaders is so much deep-rooted in these countries that no ruler could dare
ignore them. It has also been proved
that in these countries there is full independence and impartiality of investigation
of any incidence."
"American, British Intelligence Services
An editorial in the leading mass circulation
Urdu daily, Jang (7/16):
"The ground reality remains that whether the United States and
Britain attacked Iraq due to faulty intelligence or any other reason, a country
has totally been destroyed and thousands of people have got killed, and million
of people are confronting grave human tragedies and sufferings. This all has
taken place at the hands of those two countries that claim to be the champion
of global peace and security."
"British Inquiry Report"
An editorial in the Karachi-based, right-wing,
pro-Islamic unity Urdu daily, Jasarat (7/16): "Prime Minister Blair has accepted
responsibility for the failure of his intelligence agencies. The admittance of guilt demands that he
should have resigned. Blair, by siding
with the biggest deceit and lie of this century, has disgraced Britain the
world over. The Britons would definitely
punish him for this. This report has
also hit the Bush administration. But the shameless and obstinate Bush administration
has refused to present the intelligence report on Iraq before the Senate
"The Scandal Of Iraq's WMD"
An editorial in the sensationalist Urdu-language
Ummat (7/16): "The British
investigative Commission on Iraq's WMD, has reported that there was no
stockpile of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The report accused Tony Blair of taking
America's side in the war on incorrect and unverified information. Even in America the CIA report was based on
un-authentic information from several agencies, which lead America to openly
show its hatred towards the Muslim world.
Verbal expressions of friendship defy America's killings of several
thousand innocent people."
"British Admittance Of Wrong Intelligence
An editorial in the Karachi-based,
pro-Taliban/Jihad Urdu daily, Islam
(7/16): "The British Investigation
Commission has admitted that Iraq didn't have any chemical or biological
weapons. The secret information
collected was false and the British reliance on such unverified reports, which
resulted in the war, was wrong. Both
Bush and Blair are, however, adamant that notwithstanding the faulty
intelligence, their decision to go to war was right. With great vehemence and stubborn-ness they
are justifying the heavy bloodshed of the innocent people in Iraq. What could be more un-civilized and barbaric
Karachi-based center-left independent national English-language Dawn
editorialized (7/12): "'We in
Congress would not have authorized that war...if we knew what we know
now.' There cannot be a more searing
indictment of the dishonesty of the case built up by the Bush administration
for its war on Iraq.... Unfortunately,
the opposition in the shape of the Democrats, despite castigating Mr. Bush's
conduct of the war, shows little collective signs of seeking to reverse the
damage.... When superpowers make
blunders, the consequences for the world are disastrous."
"Iraq War And U.S. Senate Report"
Center-right Urdu-language Pakistan noted (7/11): "The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee
has declared the attack on Iraq as unjustified and based on lies.... If the American people could understand this
fact they would withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq and would not elect President
"Exaggerated Claims On Iraq"
Liberal This Day editorialized (7/13): "Almost everyone comes out of these
reports badly except the people they work for...Bush and...Blair. But the U.S. president and the British prime
minister are not yet off the hook....
The Butler report may...point the finger at the prime minister’s office
for political manipulation of intelligence....
Conveniently for Bush, the second part of the Senate report will be
published after the U.S. election. The
question is how the American public will judge the material that has been
released so far, along with a less-than-rosy outcome in Iraq."
"The World Was Misled"
Balanced Business Day commented (7/13): “A U.S. Senate committee’s report...shows the
world was misled about the true reasons for the war.... It is not valid to argue that although the
intelligence case may not have been watertight...Bush and...Blair could not say
so at the time.... They misled the world
and violated public trust.... What is particularly
frightening from the Senate report is the poor state of the CIA.... The absence of agents on the ground may well
account in part for its shoddy political planning for the period after last
year’s invasion. Better intelligence
would have given the U.S. a far better ability to assess the reaction to an
invasion. It is tragic that it did not
have the capacity to report accurately on Saddam’s weapons plans or Iraqi
politics. For the world’s superpower,
the committee’s report is part of an unfolding saga of arrogance, lies and
“Islands Of Freedom No More”
Political analyst and freelance journalist Allister Sparks writes
in liberal The Star (7/13):
“Today the American and British newspapers are filled with stories of
detentions without trial and the torture of political prisoners.… A terrible corrosion of values is taking
place in the great democracies that have been the role models for so many of
us.… A series of hearings...have
revealed that a patter of ‘intensive interrogation’ developed at Guantanamo Bay
was extended…to Abu Ghraib prison.… And
in all of this the interrogators have emphasized the public nature of the
humiliation.… All this, remember, has
been done in the name of spreading the enduring blessings of Western freedom
and democracy. Our way of life as
opposed to Saddam Hussein’s. The
damaging legacy is incalculable. Not
only must it convince the Islamic fundamentalists that they are indeed fighting
the forces of evil, but the Americans and the British have surely stripped
themselves of their moral authority. How
can they now protest against the abusive treatment of prisoners or political
opponents anywhere in the developing world.… To say nothing of the corroding
blow-back effect the condoning of such immoral treatment of others is likely to
have on their own societies.”
MAURITIUS: "Lies And
The predominantly French-language Muslim weekly Star had
this to say (7/11): "The...United
States Senate has, in its report, made a scathing attack on the Bush
administration and the CIA on going to war in Iraq. Simply stated the decision to go to war was
based on false premises and on utterly flawed intelligence. It is now evident that the right wing hawks
of the Pentagon of the Bush administration were hell bent to attack Iraq, and
used intelligence, which they...[used] to mislead the Senate, the Congress and
the people of the United States of America.
Their lies have been made naked and they should resign. They, similarly, lied about their policy of
torture against the detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. These people have got blood on their
hands. Bush, Cheney and others will soon
face the wrath of American public opinion for all the grotesque lies they have
been perpetuating and they keep doing it.
Cheney's past is catching up with him, especially his involvement in the
Enron scandal. In an attempt to scare
the people of the States to vote for them, the Bush administration keeps on
raising the terror alert, the latest being this week that al-Qaida is about to
have a major strike on American soldiers--lies and pack of lies!"
CANADA: "Bush, Blair
Editorial page writer Haroon Siddiqui observed
in the liberal Toronto Star (7/18):
"Two American and four British reports have exposed the tall tales
told by George W. Bush and Tony Blair to manufacture consent for invading and
occupying Iraq. Yet neither is to blame, it seems, nor anyone else, except the
Central Intelligence Agency - always an easy scapegoat. Both leaders remain
unrepentant, even though nearly 1,000 allied troops and at least 12,000 Iraqis
are dead. Terrorism is growing. America has lost moral authority, even among
allies who are unlikely to believe Bush or Blair in case of real threat.
Washington's terror warnings are fodder for late--night TV comics.... The moral
here is not that the world is a less dangerous place than we were led to
believe but that America seems so clueless about it. No wonder it creates havoc
wherever it treads. The other lesson is that we must be skeptical not only
about our leaders but also the pundit-ocracy that has become so central to our
post-9/11 discourse.... Yet the British panels probing the Blair government's
pre-war behaviour have managed to provide rhetorical escapes for their prime
minister: He was not lying. He was not deliberately exaggerating the Iraqi
threat. Poor Tony didn't know the information was wrong. We can't question his
good faith, can we? Of course not.... In Washington, the Republican-dominated
Senate committee found no evidence that Bush and Co. ordered the intelligence
community to cook the books. Of course not... There was one kind of dishonesty
before the war and now there's another-- that of covering political tracks.
Perhaps American and British voters will render all these probes moot by
passing their own clear verdicts when the time comes."
"Final Justification For War On Iraq Rests
With Finding Saddam Guilty Of Genocide"
Columnist Richard Gwyn commented in the liberal Toronto
Star (7/18): "Authoritative reports have now been issued in London as
well as in Washington--by Lord Butler and by the U.S. Senate Intelligence
Committee--that confirm what has been obvious for some time: Saddam Hussein
posed no threat whatever with weapons of mass destruction, nor had any ties to
Al Qaeda; thus there was no justification for the attack on him in the terms
originally proclaimed by George Bush and Tony Blair. The defence of the
invasion--which has cost around 20,000 lives with many more maimed, and stirred
up far more terrorism than existed in Iraq before--now rests on one proposition
that is still powerful. This is that
Saddam was a murderous, genocidal dictator of whom Iraq, the region and the
world are all well rid of. The explicit proof of Saddam's misdeeds will come
when he goes on trial in Baghdad later this year. For Bush and Blair, their
great opportunity for vindication is Saddam being brought to justice, with all
the evidence against him being laid out before what will amount to the court of
world opinion, and most particularly before the Iraqi people. But maybe not.
The trial of Saddam may not unfold at all in the way that just about everyone
has always assumed it would.... Certainly, Iraq, the region, the world, are all
better off for Saddam's downfall. He was a brutal tyrant. But these benefits,
although real, simply cannot justify the costs--human, political, diplomatic,
economic, financial and moral--of the war. And, in the continuing insurgency,
those costs are by no means yet completed."
"Peddling the Iraq war"
The liberal Toronto Star opined (7/17):
"U.S. President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair may not
have lied when they told people Saddam Hussein had befriended Al Qaeda and had weapons
of mass destruction that could be launched on 45 minutes' notice. But they
crafted a case for war by spooking Americans and Britons with flimsy, fatally
flawed evidence from unreliable sources.... Had a fraction of the effort
against Saddam been spent chasing down Al Qaeda, the terror network might
already have been destroyed. Instead, Americans have just had a surreal debate
about empowering federal officials to cancel the presidential election, if the
U.S. is attacked. While that seems unlikely, the fear is genuine. Yet Bush
continues to blindly insist that 'America is safer' for having toppled Saddam,
while Blair lamely argues 'everyone genuinely tried to do their best in good
faith.' On both sides of the Atlantic, the ranks of their supporters are
thinning. People feel betrayed, and rightly so.... They may not have lied
outright, or wilfully distorted. But as the British say, they were economical
with the truth. And they were wrong."
"'No One Lied' On Iraq"
The leading Globe and Mail editorialized (Internet version,
7/15): "The United States and
Britain invaded Iraq last year on the grounds that it could threaten the world
with weapons of mass destruction. No weapons
have been found. Were U.S. President
George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair lying to the world? Did they distort or manufacture evidence of
Iraq's WMD threat to justify the invasion?
These are natural questions, given the embarrassing failure to find
chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.
But, on the evidence so far, the answer is no. In Britain, three inquiries have absolved the
Blair government of lying or twisting the facts.... Now Lord Butler's comprehensive 196-page
report concludes that while the intelligence used to justify the invasion was
'seriously flawed,' Mr. Blair did not misuse the intelligence to back his case
for war.... Similarly, on the other side
of the Atlantic, a report last week from the U.S. Senate 'did not find any
evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or
pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction capabilities.' A second part
of the report will look into how the Bush administration handled the flawed
intelligence it was given, but so far there is nothing to show that Mr. Bush or
his top officials lied or distorted either....
Of course, that does not clear either government of all
responsibility. The fact remains that
both made the decision to invade based on faulty intelligence, a failure for
which Mr. Blair accepted full personal responsibility yesterday. If they knew then what they know now, they
might not have pulled the trigger. But hindsight is 20/20. Given what intelligence agencies around the
world thought they knew at the time, given the Saddam Hussein regime's proven
record of developing and even using WMD, given the regime's repeated lies and
deceptions about those programs...--given all that, it was hardly unreasonable
of the U.S. and British governments to see a threat. As Lord Butler puts it, Mr. Hussein's regime
had the 'strategic intention' of resuming development of WMD, including nuclear
weapons, if international sanctions were lifted or fell apart. He was carrying out illicit WMD research and
developing long-range ballistic missiles.
Whether or not he had stockpiles of weapons ready for use, it is a very
good thing he is gone."
"From One Style To The Other"
Editorialist Jean-Marc Salvet commented in the centrist Le
Soleil (7/13): "Three days
after the publication of the devastating Senate report, [George W. Bush] tried
to go back on the offensive, justifying once again, as if it were nothing,
going to war with Iraq. As if this war
had not been waged under false pretenses....
The problem that, sadly, George W. Bush always sweeps under the carpet,
is that the conditions and justifications behind the war are not without
importance. Quite the contrary. That is where the States are divided. That is also what has caused the human price
of the conflict to rise."
Jorge Elias, daily-of-record La Nacion
international columnist, opined (7/18):
"Bush and Blair resurfaced unharmed, with just a few scratches
after jumping from a plane without parachutes. In Washington, CIA director
George Tenet resigned for deliberate lies, negligence and distorting
facts. In London, following a
superficial report on the distortion of MI6 reports, nothing happened. It was
better for certain sectors that his author, Lord Butler, didn't find any 'evidence
to question the Prime Minister's good faith.'
And so it was.... Thanks to the investigation requested by him, Blair
has found a legal tool to justify his attitude. The MI6 and the government
exaggerated intelligence reports, but behaved with dignity.... There have
always been mistakes among presidents and spies.... However, there was never an
operation of such magnitude that could negatively affect secret services in
order to benefit economic interests -- linked with the exploitation of oil and
the reconstruction of a destroyed country -- and political interests -- linked
with Bush and Blair's re-elections and above all, with the continuation of a
plan of geo-strategic dominance.... In
both cases, they blamed the secret services' low level of professionalism, not
the bad will of the rulers....
Nevertheless, the U.S. investigation was more incisive than the British
investigation on the work of intelligence services. However, the gist of the situation hasn't
been solved: why the hell did they decide to start an illegal war, not
authorized by the UNSC and which, in view of the lack of evidence, focused its
brutality on a rais no different from others in the region?"
"Blair, Exonerated Of Intelligence Mistakes
Gabriela Litre, London-based correspondent for
daily-of-record La Nacion commented (7/15): "According to Lord Butler, the
intelligence reports ensuring that Saddam Hussein had WMD, which led the UK to
the war in Iraq, 'are seriously flawed.' Nonetheless, neither PM Tony Blair nor
the MI6 were declared guilty of 'deliberate distortion or negligence.' Neither
was Butler particularly tough on John Scarlett, the current head of the MI6 and
author of the questioned intelligence report that led the UK to war. While
Butler questioned Scarlett's performance, he said he had 'high consideration'
for his work, and urged him to stay in his position. As a matter of fact,
Butler limited himself to finding out huge intelligence faults and did not go
further in the use the government made of said information. Due to this
limitation, the conservative and liberal opposition refused to participate in
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: "Bogus Intelligence"
The tabloid style Newsday newspapers had
this commentary (7/10): "The
spectacle of the world's only superpower being betrayed by a totally inept
intelligence organization is both amazing and disturbing. This is a country that launched a war on
terror after the 9-11-01 bombings which badly exposed the weakness of its
intelligence gathering capacity. This
failure to detect the worst enemy attack on U.S. soil should have taught the
Bush administration a lesson, but it obviously did not. It should have driven home the fact that the
CIA, which bore an awesome reputation around the world, was in fact a grossly
incompetent organisation and should not really be trusted.... The fact is, the
pressure was on and nobody in the CIA wanted to be a nay-sayer or even raise a
cautionary voice against Bush's obsessive thrust to topple Saddam Hussein. Bush and his war hawks, whipping up mass
paranoia in their post-September 11 'war on terrorism,' virtually asked for it
and the CIA dutifully but dishonestly delivered. In our view they are both equally to blame
for this terrible fiasco."