Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

You Should Have Told It like It Was, Tony

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

You Should Have Told It like It Was, Tony

Article excerpt


SO WHAT do we WMD hawks think now? Not a dodgy weapon in sight and the inspectors running round in Iraq calling for the missing evidence as if it were an absconded cat.

The problem, though, is not the soundness of the WMD arguments over Iraq. It is the use that was made of them and the expectations that were created - most strongly by the Blair government in the runup to the war, that Iraq was bristling with illicit weapons.

It was the blasted dossier that made the intelligence sound castiron and it took no account of any changes that might be made by Saddam as war approached Few - if any - of the leading figures in intelligence or the weapons inspectorate ever claimed that there would be a great cache of WMD waiting to greet western inspectors when Saddam fell. Did the intelligence services think that the weapons capacity was more advanced than it was? Yes, in all probability they did.

"It turns out we were all wrong," says Dr David Kay, the retiring head of the Iraq Survey Group, about the state of WMD in the approach to war.

We were all fumbling in the dark for one overwhelming reason: Saddam refused to comply with the international community's requirement to account for missing weapons stocks.

He continued to play a game of bluff with the West (and more immediately Iran) right to the eve of destruction.

What were we, realistically, to make of that? On what grounds would you have given Saddam the benefit of the doubt?

The French and German intelligence services - whose governments fiercely opposed the war - held the same view of his WMD capability as the US and UK governments who supported it. Up to now, the Prime Minister has refused to countenance an independent inquiry, as called for now by both opposition parties.

I think he is wrong about this. …

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