Two former cabinet ministers accuse British PM of exaggerating threat by Iraq and following Washington blindly
These are troubled times for Prime Minister Tony Blair. After receiving a hail of criticism from world public opinion, the truth finally comes out in the Foreign Affairs Select Committee meeting in Whitehall, London: two former ministers, Claire Short and Robin Cook, accuse him of exaggerating the evidence against Baghdad.
Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary at the time of the Kosovo crisis and recently the leader of the house of commons, called the second report produced by the British government on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (the one which Colin Powell classified as "magnificent intelligence work" in the UN Security Council) "a spectacular own goal", since intelligence work was tailored to fit the WMD story in Iraq, instead of being based on objective facts.
However, it was the former Development Secretary, who joined Cook in resigning over Iraq, who was the most damning. Claiming to have had access to the intelligence reports, and claiming that there was nothing whatsoever which pointed towards Baghdad being an immediate threat" to the USA and UK and their allies, as Bush and Blair had stated, Claire Short stated that more help and time could have been given to Hans Blix to solve the matter using diplomatic means, but the date for attack had already been decided.
According to Claire Short, the timetable for war (March) had been set as far back as September 9th: "very senior people did say" that a date had been fixed long before the attack. This being the case, it means that all the diplomatic activity conducted by the USA and UK since then was no more than a charade, meaning that the rest of the international community were being treated like clowns by Washington and London.
Claire Short stated that when the issue of Iraq was discussed at Cabinet meetings, as it was on a weekly basis, that it was always without papers and always on a basis of Blair telling the Cabinet what was happening. "It was not a thorough investigation of options", she stated, adding "It was not a thorough decision-making discussion. There was no collective decision-making".
Every time she raised the issue about giving the UN Inspection teams more time to conduct their investigations, the answer was "We could not leave the troops in the desert" any longer and Tony Blair's reply was that "The US would give us a few more days" only.
Washington had decided on military action by March at the latest. It was not based on WMD, it was based on resources and strategic options. The rest was a blatant lie and Blair decided to go along with it.
The question is, the rest of the international community are not that easily fooled because they are not fools, they are not clowns. Now that the truth is out, the liars will have to face the consequences of their actions.