Iraq post-invasion had become the greatest non-news story of the modern era. The people who could not stop talking about Iraq in 2002/3 and telling how much they cared about ordinary Iraqis were strangely silent. Instead they were devoting their energies into propagandizing for another Middle Eastern military ‘intervention’, this time against Syria.
Now that Iraq is back in the western news headlines again, with calls for ‘intervention’ to counter ISIS, it’s worth bearing in mind what the architects of the Iraq war and the cheerleaders for it said in the lead up and during the invasion about the ‘threat’ from Saddam’s WMDs and how toppling a secular dictator would help the so-called ‘war on terror’ and bring peace and security to the region.
Do we really want to take these people’s advice on what ‘we’ should do now in Iraq? Up to a million people have been killed since the illegal invasion and as critics predicted at the time, the war led to enormous chaos and instability and boosted radical Islamic extremism. By their own words, let the warmongers be damned.
“He (Saddam) is probably the most dangerous individual in the world today.
Interviewer: Capable of?
Capable of anything. Capable of using weapons of mass destruction against the United States, capable of launching other military maneuvers as soon as he thinks he can get away with it…”
Richard Perle, chairman of the Defense Policy Board, mid-October 2001
The threat is very real and it is a threat not just to America or the international community but to Britain.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, 7th September 2002
And every indication we have is that he (Saddam) is pursuing, pursuing with abandon, pursuing with every ounce of effort, the establishment of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.
Benjamin Netanyahu, (then former Israeli Prime Minister) testifies to Congress, 12th September 2002
The document discloses that his (Saddam’s) military planning allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them.
Tony Blair foreword to the infamous ‘dodgy dossier’: ‘Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction, The Assessment of the British Government, (24th September 2002
The evidence produced in the Government’s report shows clearly that Iraq is still pursuing its weapons of mass destruction programme…The Government dossier confirms that Iraq is self-sufficient in biological weapons and that the Iraq military is ready to deploy these and chemical weapons at some 45 minutes’ notice’
British Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan-Smith, 24th September 2002.
The dictator of Iraq is not disarming. To the contrary, he is deceiving.
US President George W. Bush, State of the Union address 28th January 2003.
For Churchill, this apotheosis came in 1940; for Tony Blair, it will come when Iraq is successfully invaded and hundreds of weapons of mass destruction are unearthed from where they have been hidden by Saddam’s henchmen.”
Andrew Roberts, British neo-con historian, February 2003.
He (Saddam) claims to have no chemical or biological weapons, yet we know he continues to hide biological and chemical weapons, moving them to different locations as often as every 12 to 24 hours, and placing them in residential neighbourhoods
Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defense, Press conference, 12th March 2003.
We are asked now seriously to accept that in the last few years—contrary to all history, contrary to all intelligence—Saddam decided unilaterally to destroy those weapons. I say that such a claim is palpably absurd.
Tony Blair, House of Commons, 18th March 2003.
But if we leave Iraq with chemical and biological weapons, after 12 years of defiance there is a considerable risk that one day these weapons will fall into the wrong hands and put many more lives at risk than will be lost in overthrowing Saddam.
Former US President Bill Clinton in article, ‘Trust Tony’s Judgement’, 18th March 2003.
Saddam Hussein is there- and he’s a dictator and he has weapons of mass destruction and are you going to do something about it or not?
William Kristol, neo-con pundit, chair of The Project for the New American Century and editor of the Weekly Standard, as quoted on BBC Panorama Programme, The War Party, broadcast May 2003.
And when the WMDs did not turn up?
Interviewer: Is it curious to you that given how much control U.S. and coalition forces now have in the country, they haven’t found any weapons of mass destruction?
Not at all…We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.
Donald Rumsfeld, US Defense Secretary, 30th March 2003
Before people crow about the absence of weapons of mass destruction I suggest they wait a little bit. I remain confident they will be found.
Tony Blair, 28th April 2003.
Saddam and the war on terror
There can be no victory in the war against terrorism if, at the end of it, Saddam Hussein is still in power
Richard Perle, chairman of the Defense Policy Board, mid-October 2001
Interviewer: If we go into Iraq and we take down Hussein?
Then I think it’s over for the terrorists.
Richard Perle, chairman of the Defense Policy Board, mid October 2001.
I have certainly made up my mind, as indeed any sensible person would that the region in the world, most of all the people of Iraq, would be in a far better position without Saddam Hussein… It will be far better if he was not leading Iraq; the whole of the world would be safer if that were the case.
Tony Blair, television interview, May 2002
If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.
Benjamin Netanyahu, addressing Congress, 12th September 2002
We know that Iraq and al-Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade…We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases.
George W. Bush, 7 October 2002.
Some have argued that confronting the threat from Iraq could detract from the war against terror. To the contrary; confronting the threat posed by Iraq is crucial to winning the war on terror. When I spoke to Congress more than a year ago, I said that those who harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves. Saddam Hussein is harboring terrorists and the instruments of terror, the instruments of mass death and destruction.
George W. Bush, 7th October 2002.
The idea that this action (war vs Iraq) would become a recruiting sergeant for others to come to the colours of those who are “anti” any nation in the west is, I am afraid, nonsense. The biggest recruiting sergeant of all has been indecision, and the failure to take action to show that such resolve matters.
Iain Duncan-Smith, 18th March 2003
A bad bet
I feel no doubt that he (Saddam) has stockpiled some of the most vile weapons known to man. They include nuclear material. Saddam wants to dominate the Middle East, he wants to terrorise the world.. I would lay my life savings in a bet that information will emerge which proves Iraq helped al-Qaeda in the orchestration of September 11.
Ex-SAS Major Peter Ratcliffe, in the interview with the pro-war British newspaper The Sun, 4th April 2002.
Economic benefits of the war
The greatest thing to come of this to the world economy, if you could put it that way, would be $20 a barrel for oil. That’s bigger than any tax cut in any country.
Pro-war media mogul Rupert Murdoch, interview with The Bulletin magazine, February 2003
The new Hitler
Saddam is no Bismarck. He is more a Hitler. As his fate closed in, Hitler dreamt of terrible weapons. Saddam has done more than dream. He already possesses biological weaponry, including botulinum and anthrax. He does not yet have a missile system which could deliver a biological attack, but hideous damage could be inflicted by a single suicide agent with a suitcase.
Pro-war commentator Bruce Anderson, July 2002
A majority of decent and well-meaning people said there was no need to confront Hitler and that those who did were war-mongers..
Tony Blair, 28th February 2003.
What a wonderful, magnificent, emotional occasion – one that will live in legend like the fall of the Bastille, V-E Day, or the fall of the Berlin Wall….. All those smart Europeans who ridiculed George Bush and denigrated his idea that there was actually a better future for the Iraqi people – they will now have to think again…Thank God for Tony Blair and those other European leaders who defied the axis of complacency
William Shawcross, Wall Street Journal, 10th April 2003 on the toppling of the statue of Saddam.