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Report Sheds Light on Blair's War Rationale

Wednesday's revelation by a major British inquiry into intelligence on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) bluntly undermined the Blair administration's rationale for waging war in Iraq.


The report, by Lord Butler, Britain's former cabinet secretary, stated that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had no significant stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons capable of being deployed at the time United States and British forces invaded Iraq last year.


The report said the September 2002 government dossier went to the "outer limits" of intelligence available at the time to support a claim by Prime Minister Tony Blair that Saddam had the capability to deploy unlawful weapons within 45 minutes.


Butler also found there was no evidence that Iraq cooperated with the al-Qaida terror network, echoing similar findings by the Senate intelligence committee in Washington last week.


But the report exonerated the government and Blair of the charge of deceiving the public and Parliament.


"No single individual is to blame," Butler said. "This was a collective operation in which there were failures we have identified but there was no deliberate attempt on the part of the government to mislead."


But that cannot relieve Blair from the long-standing accusation that he took the country to war under false pretenses.


At the very least, Blair did not tell the whole truth. When he made the case for war, his audience was left with the impression his passionate conviction was based on overwhelming evidence.


In his forward to the September dossier, Blair wrote: "What I believe the assessed intelligence has established beyond doubt is that Saddam has continued to produce chemical and biological weapons, that he continues in his efforts to develop nuclear weapons, and that he has been able to extend the range of his ballistic missile program."


If this does not add up to misleading parliament and the public, then what does the word "mislead" mean?


Yet the prime minister continues to insist it was right to go to war. All of a sudden, he finds the real reason for sending in the troops was to topple a very nasty dictator.


He has shifted the rationale for the war, so far, so conveniently.


The truth is the United States and British used the threat of non-existent Iraqi WMD and a tenuous connection to al-Qaida as justification for launching the war on Iraq.


The reliability, or credibility, of US/Britain intelligence hardly matters to the international community any more.


(China Daily July 16, 2004)




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