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[casi-analysis] casi-news digest, Vol 1 #151 - 1 msg

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   1. Scott Ritter: If you had seen what I have seen (John Churchilly)


Message: 1
Date: Sun, 10 Oct 2004 14:08:52 -0700 (PDT)
From: John Churchilly <>
Subject: Scott Ritter: If you had seen what I have seen
To: analysis CASI- <>
Scott Ritter: If you had seen what I have seen
The inspection process was rigged to create
uncertainty over WMD to bolster the US and UK's case
for war
10 October 2004

It appears that the last vestiges of perceived
legitimacy regarding the decision of President George
Bush and Tony Blair to invade Iraq have been
eliminated with the release this week of the Iraq
Survey Group's final report on Iraqi weapons of mass
destruction. The report's author, Charles Duelfer,
underscored the finality of what the world had come to
accept in the 18 months since the invasion of Iraq -
that there were no stockpiles of WMD, or programmes to
produce WMD. Despite public statements made before the
war by Bush, Blair and officials and pundits on both
sides of the Atlantic to the contrary, the ISG report
concludes that all of Iraq's WMD stockpiles had been
destroyed in 1991, and WMD programmes and facilities
dismantled by 1996.

Duelfer's report does speak of Saddam Hussein's
"intent" to acquire WMD once economic sanctions were
lifted and UN inspections ended (although this
conclusion is acknowledged to be derived from
fragmentary and speculative sources). This judgement
has been seized by Bush and Blair as they scramble to
re-justify their respective decisions to wage war.
"The Duelfer report showed that Saddam was
systematically gaming the system, using the UN
oil-for-food programme to try to influence countries
and companies in an effort to undermine sanctions,"
Bush said. "He was doing so with the intent of
restarting his weapons programme once the world looked
away." Blair, for his part, has apologised for relying
on faulty intelligence, but not for his decision to go
to war. The mantra from both camps remains that the
world is a safer place with Saddam behind bars.

But is it? When one examines the reality of the
situation on the ground in Iraq today, it seems hard
to draw any conclusion that postulates a scenario
built around the notion of an improved environment of
stability and security. Indeed, many Iraqis hold that
life under Saddam was a better option than the life
they are facing under an increasingly violent and
destabilising US-led occupation. The ultimate
condemnation of the failure and futility of the US-UK
effort in Iraq is that if Saddam were released from
his prison cell and participated in the elections
scheduled for next January, there is a good chance he
would emerge as the popular choice. But while
democratic freedom of expression was a desired outcome
of the decision to remove Saddam from power, the crux
of the pre-war arguments and the ones being
reconfigured by those in favour of the invasion centre
on the need to improve international peace and
security. Has Saddam's removal accomplished this?

To answer this question, you have to postulate a world
today that includes an Iraq led by Saddam. How this
world would deal with him would be determined by
decisions made by the US, Britain and the
international community in the months leading up to
the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. One of the key
historical questions being asked is what if Hans Blix
(who gives his own view, right) had been given the
three additional months he had requested in order to
complete his programme of inspection? Two issues arise
from this scenario: would Blix have been able to
assemble enough data to ascertain conclusively, in as
definitive a fashion as the Duelfer ISG report, a
finding that Saddam's Iraq was free of WMD, and thus
posed no immediate threat; and would the main
supporters of military engagement with Iraq, the US
and Britain, have been willing to accept such a

The answer to the first point is that Blix and his
team of inspectors were saddled with a complicated
list of "cluster issues", ironically assembled by
Duelfer during his tenure as head of the UN weapons
inspectors, that would have needed to be rectified for
any finding of compliance to be made. These "clusters"
postulated the need for Iraq to prove the negative,
something that is virtually impossible to do. We now
know that Iraq's WMD were destroyed in 1991. The
problem wasn't the weapons, but verification of Iraq's
declarations. The standards of verification set by
Duelfer-Blix were impossible for Iraq to meet, thus
making closure on the "cluster" issues also an
unattainable goal. This situation answers the second
point as well. Since the inspection process was
pre-programmed to fail, there would be no way the US
or the UK would accept any finding of compliance from
the UN weapons inspectors. The inspection process was
rigged to create uncertainty regarding Iraq's WMD,
which was used by the US and the UK to bolster their
case for war.

It appears that there was no way short of war to
create an environment where a finding of Iraq's
compliance with its obligation to disarm could be
embraced by the US and British governments. The main
reason for this was that the issue wasn't WMD per se,
but Saddam. The true goal wasn't disarmament, but
regime change. This, of course, clashed with the
principles of international law set forth in the
Security Council resolutions, voted on by the US and
UK, and to which Saddam was ostensibly held to
account. Economic sanctions, put in place by the UN in
1990 after Saddam's invasion of Iraq and continued in
1991, linked to Saddam's obligation to disarm, were
designed to compel Iraq to comply with the Security
Council's requirements. Saddam did disarm, but since
two members of that Security Council - the US and the
UK - were implementing unilateral policies of regime
change as opposed to disarmament, this compliance
could never be recognised. Sadly, when one speaks of
threats to international peace and security, history
will show that it was the US and Britain that
consistently operated outside the spirit and letter of
international law in their approach towards dealing
with Saddam.

This blatant disregard for international law on the
part of the world's two greatest democracies serves as
the foundation of any analysis of the question: would
the world be better off with or without Saddam in
power? To buy into the notion that the world is better
off without Saddam, one would have to conclude that
the framework of international law that held the world
together since the end of the Second World War - the
UN Charter - is antiquated and no longer viable in a
post-9/11 world. Tragically, we can see the fallacy of
that argument unfold on a daily basis, as the horrific
ramifications of American and British unilateralism
unfold across the globe. If there ever was a case to
be made for a unified standard of law governing the
interaction of nations, it is in how we as a global
community prosecute the war on terror. Those who
embrace unilateral pre-emptive strikes in the name of
democracy and freedom have produced results that
pervert the concept of democracy while bringing about
the horrific tyranny of fear and oppression at the
hands of those who posture as liberators.

If Saddam were in power today, it would only have been
because the US and Britain had altered course and
joined the global community in recognising the
pre-eminence of international law, and the necessity
of all nations to operate in accordance with that law.
The irony is that had the US and Britain taken this
path, and an unrepentant Saddam chosen to defy the
international community by acting on the intent he is
alleged to have harboured, then he would have been
removed from power by a true international coalition
united in its legitimate defence of international law.
But this is not the case. Saddam is gone, and the
world is far worse for it - not because his regime
posed no threat, perceived or otherwise, but because
the threat to international peace and security
resulting from the decisions made by Bush and Blair to
invade Iraq in violation of international law make any
threat emanating from an Iraq ruled by Saddam pale in

Scott Ritter is a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq
(1991-1998) and the author of 'Frontier Justice:
Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of
America', published by Context Books
   11 October 2004 00:04

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