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[casi] from today's papers: 22-04-02

A. Iraq dossier not pulled, says PM, Guardian, 22 April
B. Bush must learn to ignore anything that Blair tells him, Daily Telegraph,
22 April
C. Blair dossier on Iraq is delayed indefinitely, FT, April 20


[Letter writers: remember to include your address and telephone number]

A. reports Blair's claim on BBC1's 'Breakfast with Frost' show that '[t]he
evidence that the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, is building weapons of mass
destruction, in defiance of the United Nations, [i]s "simply vast".' Of
course, like the 'absolutely powerful and incontrovertible evidence' of
Osama bin Laden's guilt for the September 11 atrocities that Mr Blair
claimed to have in his posession last September, we're not allowed to see
this evidence.

B. is an opinion piece by an 'adviser to Lady Thatcher': 'there is only one
solution possible in Iraq: Saddam must and will go. What Mr Blair, or the
EU, or the Arab world, or even the UN, thinks about it will eventually count
for little.'

C. contains some more background on the indefinite postponement of the
dossier. The spin is that this is due to fears over 'revealing sensitive
information' and 'compromising intelligence sources' but the piece also
notes that 'the information on Iraq [i]s judged by some Whitehall officials
as insufficient to convince critics within the Labour party.'

Best wishes,

voices uk

A. Iraq dossier not pulled, says PM

Brown camp denies split over policy on Saddam

Lucy Ward, political correspondent
Monday April 22, 2002
The Guardian

Tony Blair yesterday denied that a dossier of evidence on Iraqi weapons of
mass destruction had been "pulled" from publication amid speculation that it
was inadequate to convert sceptics wary of military intervention.

The prime minister insisted that the document, whose release by the
government was expected before Easter, would be made available "at the
appropriate time", but refused to specify a date.

The evidence that the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, is building weapons of
mass destruction, in defiance of the United Nations, was "simply vast", Mr
Blair told BBC1's Breakfast with Frost.

Stressing that nothing had been decided on potential military action against
President Saddam, Mr Blair also rejected reports that he was at odds with
the chancellor, Gordon Brown, over his stance on Iraq.

A spokesman for the chancellor yesterday dismissed claims by the veteran
Labour MP Tam Dalyell, a fierce opponent of a military assault, that Mr
Brown believed the prime minister was too "gung ho" over Iraq. "This is
utter rubbish and absolutely untrue," the spokesman said.

The deferral of plans to publish the dossier on Iraq's military arsenal was
interpreted at the time as a recognition by Downing Street of the political
impossibility of further open contemplation of a war against Iraq.

There were fears that the report could increase speculation among already
concerned backbenchers of an imminent attack, while critics claimed it had
been held back through lack of hard evidence proving that President Saddam
was close to developing weapons of mass destruction.

Mr Blair said yesterday: "It wasn't pulled. We will publish it at the
appropriate time, and when that's going to be I simply do not know. The
evidence of Saddam Hussein on weapons of mass destruction is simply vast."

Nothing had been decided in terms of what action should be taken against
President Saddam, he insisted, stressing again that the world would benefit
if he was removed from power.

"We have not taken any decisions on Iraq at all. We've identified weapons of
mass destruction as a crucial issue, and it is," Mr Blair said.

"Saddam Hussein is a threat and the world would be better off without Saddam
Hussein in power. But we will take no decisions until we have looked at all
the options."

Iraq is negotiating with the UN over the terms on which weapons inspectors
might return to the country. Government sources argue that, if President
Saddam ultimately refuses entry, their attempts at first to seek a peaceful
resolution to the Iraqi threat will help win over Labour critics of military

Despite reservations voiced by Clare Short, the international development
secretary, Mr Blair insisted there were no fundamental splits among cabinet
ministers. Those who had raised issues of timing, military options and the
role of the UN were asking "perfectly sensible questions".

Mr Blair said it was difficult to be sure how quickly President Saddam could
create a nuclear arsenal, but it would be wrong to wait until he had done so
before taking action.

"What we know from our experience of September 11 is that it's sensible to
try to deal with these threats before they become fully operational."

Meanwhile, the leftwing Labour MP George Galloway, a longtime critic of
government policy towards Iraq, claimed an attack on the country would split
the government "down the middle", and could even topple Mr Blair's

He told Scottish Television's Seven Days programme: "There's already a lot
of unhappiness with Tony Blair ... If he led us into such a disaster as this
behind the generalship of George W Bush it could be the last straw for Tony

B. Bush must learn to ignore anything that Blair tells him
By Robin Harris

Daily Telegraph
(Filed: 22/04/2002)

THE recriminations began even before Colin Powell's return from his unhappy
mission to the Middle East. Not since the end of the Cold War has American
power been so brazenly mocked in the region. Still more important, at no
time since the events of September 11, has the Bush Administration's
strategy in the war against terror looked so ragged.

As befits a nation with a congenital preference for morality over
realpolitik, the most dangerous attacks from the President's domestic
opponents will be those that accuse him of double standards. He has appeared
to argue that the global war against terror must somehow stop at the
frontiers of Israel, denying Israeli armed forces the right to do to Hamas
what America has itself done to al-Qa'eda.

The President has already begun to back-track from this untenable position.
He will doubtless now be more mistrustful of the State Department. But
George W. Bush would also be wise to reflect on what the debacle shows about
advice that he received from another quarter - Tony Blair.

Ever since Mr Blair's strong response to the attacks on America last
September, Americans, including their Commander-in-Chief, have regarded him
as a friend. Particularly in that hour of grief, America wanted to be loved;
and Mr Blair, a past master at generating the glow of fictitious friendship,
duly obliged. But the influence he thereby acquired has entailed a cost.

It is now clear that Mr Blair's visit to the White House in early April was
crucial in shifting the focus of American policy towards the Middle East. Of
course, Mr Blair was not wholly responsible. The President had already begun
to put public pressure on Israel. But in a situation where the State
Department was warning of the consequences of continuing upheaval in the
region for the hopes of moderate Arab acquiescence in an attack on Iraq, Mr
Blair tipped the balance.

The Prime Minister had influence and he decided to exploit it. A Downing
Street source was reported as saying before the visit that the British
deployment in Afghanistan was "a cheque that Blair will cash in. He will
tell Bush that he needs to carry the international community with him."

What this meant in practice was that, to win over the Arab states, America
had to become embroiled (or, as Mr Blair put it, "engaged") in the
Israeli-Palestinian crisis, and that this should be moved higher up the
agenda than all the unsettling talk of "regime change" in Iraq.

When Mr Blair arrived in Washington, President Bush began their joint press
conference by telling those present: "I appreciate [Mr Blair's] counsel and
I appreciate his friendship." But Mr Bush's advisers should have paid
attention to Mr Blair's own words at a speech he would deliver the following

As the climax of his address, the Prime Minister suggested, in an
observation no less significant for its banality, that the "most obvious
lesson [of September 11] is our interdependence". Not, be it noted, the need
to maintain security. Not the value of high-tech weaponry in projecting
power against terrorist havens. Not even the importance of American

Rather, the implications of the attack on America and of America's potent
response against those attackers amounted, for Mr Blair, to a demonstration
of the need for a New World Order presided over by stronger international

Mr Blair will go along with President Bush on pragmatic grounds,
understanding that a close relationship with America lends him kudos, but he
shares nothing of Mr Bush's world view. Mr Blair has never believed in
waging a total war against terrorism - indeed, he proudly draws attention to
his negotiations with Irish terrorists as proof of his own statesmanlike

Nor is Mr Blair very obviously concerned about Iraq - at least to judge from
a joint press conference held with President Chirac of France last November,
opposing action against Saddam Hussein. Only when Mr Blair understood that
America meant business did he fall into line. Perhaps this cynicism is why a
dangerously small minority - 35 per cent - of the British public would
currently back an American strike against Baghdad.

What most Americans fail to grasp is that Mr Blair is (in their terms) an
inveterate liberal. He thinks that only by solving an insoluble dispute
between Jews and Arabs can one build an unbuildable consensus against
Saddam's Iraq. It is all of a piece with his oft-repeated conviction that
only by overcoming global poverty can one defeat global terrorism, ignoring
the fact that al-Qa'eda's leaders do not, by and large, seem to have
suffered deprived childhoods.

President Bush has, in any case, had previous experience of his opposite
number's real worth. When the two held their first summit in February last
year, Mr Blair came with a mission. It was to persuade the new president
that the planned European Rapid Reaction Force posed no threat to Nato.

To this end, he gave Mr Bush three assurances - that there would be joint
EU-Nato command in any operations undertaken, that planning would take place
within Nato and that the Europeans would act only if Nato had first declined
to do so.

Each of these assurances was false; Mr Blair knew they were false; and Mr
Bush now knows that Mr Blair knew they were false. The Americans have
overlooked this lapse because they do not take the European army seriously,
and because they like Mr Blair and think they need him. But they should also
have learnt that Mr Blair is an unreliable ally and that his agenda is
wholly governed by his short-term domestic political needs.

In this respect, Mr Blair's motives during his most recent visit to
Washington have not changed at all. He was desperate to appease opposition
within the ranks of the Labour Party, including his own Cabinet, to his
policy on Iraq and to do this he had to demonstrate three things.

He had to show that he had real influence in Washington, which meant
supporting the State Department against the "hawks". He had to get the
President to distance himself from Israel's Ariel Sharon, a hate-figure to
the Left. Finally, he had to convince his MPs that the prospect of action
against Iraq had disappeared into the middle distance - hence the
mantra-like repetitions back in Britain that such a campaign was not

Judged by these criteria, Mr Blair was remarkably successful. But the direct
counterpart was that the Administration's whole strategy has - for the
moment, at least - been thrown into disarray.

Yet probably not for long. The logic of events will drive matters forward in
Iraq, as in the Middle East. Just as there is no solution at hand in
Israel-Palestine, there is only one solution possible in Iraq: Saddam must
and will go. What Mr Blair, or the EU, or the Arab world, or even the UN,
thinks about it will eventually count for little.

The pertinent lesson for Washington from recent events, however, is that the
conditions on which Tony Blair appears to offer his support are likely to be
precisely those that render whatever America intends difficult or
impossible. The President can accept Mr Blair's flattery, and within limits
use his good offices, but he should henceforth consistently shun his advice.

The author is adviser to Lady Thatcher

C. Blair dossier on Iraq is delayed indefinitely MILITARY OFFENSIVE

Financial Times; Apr 20, 2002

The long-awaited dossier Tony Blair has promised would justify his support
for a US-led military offensive on Iraq is being delayed indefinitely by an
un-resolved dispute at the highest levels of government.

Number 10 is thought to have encountered resistance to the plan among senior
Whitehall officials, some ministers, and the secret intelligence service

Intelligence officials believe Downing Street and sectors of the Foreign
Office acted precipitately by letting it be known that such a dossier was in
the pipeline before Easter and before a final draft had been fully cleared
through the internal Whitehall machinery.

Senior defence sources said there were debates within government on how much
could be included in such a document without revealing sensitive information
or compromising intelligence sources.

A further issue, the sources said, was whether the dossier should include
other countries thought to be developing weapons of mass destruction.

The Foreign Office confirmed that the dossier no longer had a firm
publication date, and that a final draft has still to be agreed. It would be
released "when we judge that the time is right," it said

However, a Whitehall insider said the "unresolved dispute" was further
complicated by the incomplete intelligence picture drawn up on Iraq's
nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare capability and intentions.

While some intelligence suggests Mr Saddam has been focusing on the
development of biological and chemical agents, and a military capability to
strike at Israel, Iraq has succeeded in keeping secret the nature and scope
of its military programme. "There was concern that by publishing the dossier
we would expose what we did not know as much as what we did and that in
itself could compromise ongoing intelligence gathering," one source said.

British officials believe Mr Saddam has managed to protect his plans from
intrusion by signals and satellite intelligence, forcing US and British
intelligence to draw assumptions rather than certainties about his true

In contrast to previous intelligence dossiers on al-Qaeda and the
Diamonds-for-Arms trade deliberately used over the last two years by the
Blair government to justify policy initiatives, the information on Iraq was
judged by some Whitehall officials as insufficient to convince critics
within the Labour party that the full-scale offensive against Iraq was

There is for example no firm evidence linking Iraq to al-Qaeda, or as a
supplier of chemical, nuclear or biological material to associated
terrorists groups as claimed by some members of the US administration.

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