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Phillip Adams descends to the depths

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Adams descends to holocaust revisionism about the Kurdish Anfal -- Remembering their dead is a "distraction" from the "central issue" of lies about WMDs for an "unjustified war" against a regime that really might not have been all that bad. See also reply by Christopher Hitchens.

Where are the bodies of evidence?

Phillip Adams

The Australian, 2004-07-27

FAILURE of intelligence? What failure? Washington's spies, analysts and sundry apparatchiks were highly successful in giving their masters exactly what they wanted - an excuse to wage the war that Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz had been planning for years. Unsuccessful in persuading Bill Clinton to wage it, they knew they could enthuse George W. Bush.

Weapons of mass destruction were an afterthought. Wolfowitz confessed as much to Vanity Fair. "For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on." Reason, Mr Wolfowitz? It wasn't a reason. It was an excuse. We not only knew that the WMD issue was being wildly exaggerated; we also knew that the connection between Baghdad and September 11, between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, was a furphy.

The ongoing WMD debate, the endless reports churned out by the US Senate, Britain's Lord Butler and Australia's Philip Flood, are a distraction from the central issue that the coalition of the willing waged an unjustified war. Instead of piles of WMDs, we have disinformation pouring from the mouths of presidents, prime ministers, defence secretaries, foreign ministers and anyone else who could climb on the bandwagon.

Take Tony Blair's repeated claims that Saddam could deploy nasty weapons "within 45 minutes" when "four to five years", or never, was more accurate. Or Blair's repeated claims that "400,000 bodies have been found in Iraqi mass graves". He said that in November last year and repeated it in December. Yet only 5000 corpses have been uncovered. Yes, that's 5000 too many, but 395,000 short of Blair's body count.

Of course, the other 395,000 might turn up, like those missing weapons. But to say that they've already been discovered is just the latest in the litany of lies. Yes, Saddam gassed the Kurds. Yes, an unknown number of Iraqi citizens were tortured and slaughtered. But most of these deaths - including the massacre of the Kurds - occurred when Saddam was one of Washington's best friends in the Middle East, being armed and encouraged in his war on Iraq.

It seems that all the figures that have been thrown around about Saddam's killing fields have been grossly inflated. Even Human Rights Watch, responsible for some of the more shocking estimates, concedes it may have been misled, by orders of magnitude. Yet talking up the genocide continues.

WASHINGTON enthusiastically endorses the highest of high estimates - to justify the forthcoming trial of Saddam that will surely include charges of genocide. Quoting Blair's "400,000 bodies" on an official website, it states the bleeding obvious that "if these numbers prove accurate, they represent a crime against humanity surpassed only by the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Pol Pot's Cambodian killing fields in the 1970s and the Nazi Holocaust of World War II". And if they're not accurate?

Downing Street has been forced to confess to The Observer that the 400,000 corpses claimed by Blair is untrue. Thus the only surviving justification for the war is looking very wobbly. Of 270 suspected gravesites identified in the past year, 55 have been examined. While some sites have contained hundreds of bodies, others have contained no more than a dozen. Writing in The Guardian, Peter Beaumont complains that the scale of Saddam's crimes against humanity has "become increasingly politicised in both Washington and London as it has become clearer that the case against Iraq for hiding weapons of mass destruction has faded".

While the Coalition searches for the Butcher of Baghdad's mass graves, it becomes legitimate to ask how many people were butchered by the coalition of the willing. As with Gulf War I in 1991, official figures have been withheld. There has been a ballpark figure of 10,000 dead civilians, but how many Iraqi conscripts died as the Western troops rolled in? All to rid the world of one man.

Yet we conduct these silly, circular arguments about WMDs, commissioning lofty reports that try to absolve national leaders from their responsibilities in waging an unjustified war, a war against a country they could squash without the slightest difficulty. Never forget that when Iraq was at the height of its power - before Gulf War I, before the subsequent disarmament process and the decade of sanctions - it was abundantly clear the Iraqis couldn't fight their way out of the proverbial paper bag. So many justifications and obfuscations to justify the war. Yet very few of them were true.

--- Reply by Christopher Hitchens It Happened Mr Adams

Created by keza
Last modified 2005-01-04 05:36 AM

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