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Robin Cook article in the Daily Telegraph 18/11/98

I'm sure the irony of this article by the Foreign Secretary and it's
blatant disinformation won't go unnoticed by readers of this list...

Why not write to the Telegraph (and Cook) and put some things straight?


   Haven't we been here before?
   This was not the first time that Saddam had taken us to the brink. It
   will certainly not be the last. As the Security Council accepts the
   assurances of Iraqi co-operation with the United Nations, it is a
   legitimate question to ask.
   This is the reaction Saddam was hoping for. There is little doubt what
   game he is trying to play with us. He believes that, if he keeps
   marching us to the top of the hill and down again, eventually we will
   grow weary and stop marching. He is gambling against the resolve of
   public opinion.
   This time, however, it was firmly behind us. We were ready for the
   consequences if Saddam did not back down. British planes were ready to
   fly one-fifth of the sorties planned. We understood what was at stake.
   And the public's support ensured that the international community won.
   Saddam blinked first.
   He started off the confrontation by ending all co-operation with
   Unscom inspectors. He ended it promising full and unconditional
   co-operation. There is no doubt he lost. But it is not over yet.
   Saddam is a devious operator. He knows full well that democratic
   governments must listen to public opinion. He knows that it does not
   have an unlimited appetite for military adventure. That is why he
   keeps testing our resolve. Every time it comes to confrontation, there
   are two theatres of operation - the Gulf, where force will be used if
   everything else fails, and the international media, where Saddam hopes
   to undermine our determination and win without a missile being fired.
   Our target is Baghdad's stockpile of chemical and biological weapons.
   Baghdad's target is the hearts and minds of our people. Saddam does
   not have to worry about public opinion in Iraq. In a state founded on
   terror, the only opinion that matters is Saddam's. This is the classic
   paradox for democracy fighting dictatorship. We have to be as good as
   our word, while Saddam breaks his with a remarkable consistency. We
   have to keep our people with us, while Saddam again orders his into
   the firing line.
   But democracy has its own strengths in this battle. Saddam is gambling
   on its weaknesses. If we are serious about making him behave, we need
   to play to its strengths. The first of those strengths must be truth.
   We are dealing with a serial liar, whose lies must be exposed. We must
   nail the absurd claim that sanctions are responsible for the suffering
   of his people. Food and medicine have never been covered by sanctions.
   Earlier this year, we doubled the amount of oil that Iraq can sell to
   buy these and other humanitarian goods. But Saddam chooses not to. He
   spends his money on new palaces and weapons. He could have ended the
   suffering of his people years ago.
   We must also expose his repeated lying over his ambitions to stockpile
   weapons of terror. He has consistently tried to deceive Unscom. He
   claimed that he has never put nerve gas in weapons. We have now proved
   that he has. He claimed that an animal feed factory was harmless. In
   fact, it was designed to produce 50,000 litres of anthrax and botulism
   toxin a year.
   Second, we must use the truth to keep public opinion firm. Time and
   again we have seen that a democracy can summon up a strength and unity
   of which dictators can only dream.
   Third, we must maintain the unity of the international community. This
   time round, it was absolutely solid. Saddam was not able to split the
   Security Council. Even the Arab world made clear that whatever
   happened would be the responsibility of Baghdad. Far from wearing it
   down, Saddam is finding that he has exhausted the patience of the
   international community.
   Fourth, we must uphold the sanctity of international law and the
   United Nations. If we abandon them, we lose the only objective
   standard by which a country can steer its course. The rule of the
   strongest would be substituted for the rule of law. Conversely, if we
   stand by them, we will find they grow in strength and authority. That
   way we build a world that is safe from the Saddams of the future.
   Finally, we must turn Saddam's contempt for democracy back on himself.
   A government of Iraq that was accountable to its people would end
   their suffering. And it would end years of confrontation designed only
   to further one man's regional ambitions. We cannot ask for a popular
   uprising. If Iraqis put their hands up to disagree, they are literally
   cut off.
   But there are things we can do. We have consistently given the Iraqi
   opposition groups practical support. We have sponsored peace talks, so
   that the Kurdish rebel groups can disagree with Saddam rather than
   each other. In the past week, we have called Saddam's bluff. But we
   know him too well to trust his word. We are not relaxing our guard.
   As the UN inspectors resume their operations in Iraq, we will be
   looking for evidence of the full compliance promised by Baghdad.
   Saddam is now caught in a web. We have compelled him to give
   commitments to full co-operation by the threat of military force.
   Saddam knows that military forces in the Gulf remain on high alert. He
   knows that, if he attempts to escape from the web by breaking his
   pledges, we will hit his regime hard and fast.

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