February 03, 2004


Mark Steyn on WMD:

As things stand, it seems unlikely that WMD will be found in Iraq. Doesn't bother me. In these pages a few days after 9/11, I stated that I was in favour of whacking Saddam pour encourager les autres. There was no sharper way to draw a distinction between the new geopolitical landscape and the September 10 world than by removing a man who symbolised the weakness and irresolution of "multilateralism". He was left in power back in 1991 in order, as Colin Powell airily conceded in his memoirs, to keep the UN coalition intact. Lesson number one: don't form coalitions with people who don't share your war aims.

Steyn makes the important point that the war in Iraq did uncover WMD -- in Libya. There are also some observations on the BBC (“I hail the many stellar BBC 'personalities' who are said to be threatening to quit the corporation”), a subject which steams The Guardian’s Martin Kettle:

Having read the Hutton report and most of what has been written about it, I have reached the following, strictly non-judicial, conclusions: first, that the episode illuminates a wider crisis in British journalism than the turmoil at the BBC; second, that too many journalists are in denial about this wider crisis; third, that journalists need to be at the forefront of trying to rectify it; and, fourth, that this will almost certainly not happen.

Stupid journalists. They’re destroying their own industry.

Posted by Tim Blair at February 3, 2004 04:40 PM

Multilateralism means the hygienically challenged French, best known for dropping their weapons in the face of an enemy, should lead the western world. I would rather eat plastic turkey.

Posted by: perfectsense at February 3, 2004 at 04:58 PM

Those BBC "personalities" threatening to quit remind me of the philosophers' strike in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

"And whom will that inconvience?"

Posted by: Pixy Misa at February 3, 2004 at 05:08 PM

Steyn makes an excellent point regards Libya.

I don't agree with everything Kettle says but I'm glad to see something like it in the Guardian.

Posted by: Timothy Lang at February 3, 2004 at 05:15 PM

Oh, indeed, Pixy.

Don't let the door hit your *ss on the way out!

Posted by: Timothy Lang at February 3, 2004 at 05:19 PM

Inconvenience. I knew that looked wrong.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at February 3, 2004 at 06:43 PM

As things stand, it seems unlikely that WMD will be found in Iraq. Doesn't bother me.

It bothers me slightly. Lack of WMD doesn't undermine the case for war, but it does present problems in other areas. For example, let's say, for argument's sake, the intelligence was correct and there were vast numbers of WMD in Iraq just before the war. Where are they now? Syria?

Also: Steyn makes the important point that the war in Iraq did uncover WMD -- in Libya

Well, sort of, although some might dispute that:

In a New York Times article last week Mr. Leverett said that "by linking shifts in Libya's behavior to the Iraq war, the president misrepresents the real lesson of the Libyan case." He said: "The roots of the recent progress with Libya go back not to the eve of the Iraq war, but to the Bush administration's first year in office. Indeed, to be fair, some credit should even be given to the second Clinton administration."

Posted by: Joe at February 3, 2004 at 07:13 PM

The non-existence of WMD may not bother Steyn and other war mongers but surely the failure of US intelligence bothers them in this new post 9/11 world?

Incompetence at best; gross negligence at worst.

Posted by: bongoman at February 3, 2004 at 08:13 PM

Hans Blix said on 7 March 03 that he couldn’t say if Iraq had WMD or not. He needed more time. He needed months not years to reach a conclusion. So should he have got more time? The only wee problem I have is once Blix had come back say in Oct 03 and said Iraq does not have any WMD then what happens? Thinking about Nelson Mandela and the end of South Africa’s WMD won’t help.

Posted by: Simon at February 3, 2004 at 08:41 PM

Unfortunately, the only way that the job started in the early 90's to oust Saddam could be finished was to drum-up the potential existence of WMD's in Iraq, giving the green light for the unilateral invasion. It wasn't as if the French and Russians, with all their underhanded dealings with Saddam via their respective citizen's companies, would give the go ahead for invasion simply because Saddam was a murderous, barbaric, heinous dictator, the likes of which the world has not seen since WWII. That would be too "pious" for such, evidently, morally-inept countries.

Posted by: dan at February 3, 2004 at 08:48 PM

I just want to know one thing: how many Iraqis did the UN kill by keeping up its sanction regime despite the lack of WMD's?

More than Bush killed by ending the sanctions, I'm guessing.

Posted by: Bovious at February 4, 2004 at 12:13 AM

Nice either/or fallacy, bongoboy.

Does it occur to you that intelligence failures can happen because the opposition doesn't like having it's secrets revealed for some unfathomable reason? Or perhaps putting heavy restrictions on HUMINT capabilities and being forced to rely on satellite reconaissance, aerial reconaissance and communications intercepts might not be quite as all-effective as some members of Congress might think? (...and please no strawmen about how this means the above methods are automatically "useless" and why we're "wasting" billions using them since that is not what I'm saying at all.)

Posted by: Patrick Chester at February 4, 2004 at 02:14 AM

The failure - if it is that - is not just upon US intelligence, but the intelligence agencies of just about every country in the world. That seems a little too much to accept. Even David Kay has waffled around this. His Syria line kept "moving" as he got closer to leaving. What is the truth? The programs were there - or least documentation of the WMD programs was found - where are the weapons, or was the documentation a ruse?

Does Syria have them stored away? My fear is that there were small amounts of WMD taken out of the country and perhaps in terrorist hands right now. That is my biggest concern. If evidence would come out that we know for certain WMDs weren't there in the first place - I would feel much better. Right now, that hasn't happened.

Posted by: JEM at February 4, 2004 at 06:01 AM

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Saddam hasn't exactly been standing alone as Supremo Dictator since WWII. The Soviets and their Eastern Bloc minions managed pretty well as murderous dictators. Mao murdered millions, as did Pol Pot. Saddam is also joined by far too many petty dictators, such as Idi Amin, Mugabe, Castro, and others too numerous to mention. These guys knew better than to directly take on the US, however. They waved their rhetoric around, and excepting the western communist countries, did little else.

There isn't anthing in the western world that shows just how bankrupt socialism is like its journalists. But journalists are just products of socialist education systems that tenure their own products, giving the old Ivory Tower cliches new meaning. They are the neo-Sophists of the west.

Posted by: Dee at February 4, 2004 at 06:16 AM

Joe: I would remind you that, as regards Lybia, most everyone was ready to forgive Lybia her supreme act of terrorism (remember the ashes flying over Scotland), ignore his complicity in Sudan, and allow Khaddafi to once again play with the big boys -- thanks to diplomacy begun by Clinton. He was being soooooo nice! Then, all of a sudden -- the day after Saddam crawled out of his spider hold -- the world seems shocked to find out that this was all a lie! Imagine that. Khaddafi was covering up more nefarious activity. Who would have guessed! Certainly not by boys residing in the fog of Foggy Bottom, nor by a media happy in their ignorance of history and human nature.

And, please add North Korea's Beloved Leader (and his pop) to my list of mass murderers. (How could I have forgotten this dynasty of killers?)

Posted by: Dee at February 4, 2004 at 06:42 AM

Back to Tim's main point:

Journalists are busy destroying their own industry, as exemplified by the wash-up of the Hutton enquiry.

In smaller, less-examined scale, the BBC-way (ideologically-driven distortion in all its ugly shapes) is being acted out in Big Media all over the Western world.

The Brits have been leading the way socialogically for centuries:

First with a revolution (1600's) - France waited till the 1770's, Russia, backward as usual, waited till the early 1900's.

Britain was first with an elected Parliment (with real power that is), first with an industrial revolution, first to start releasing colonies from their empire, and lots of other boring stuff.

Now they are in the vanguard of destroying the credibility and vitality of professional journalism. It appears that the 'professionals' are actually less likely to be reliable and truthful than any random blogger on the web.

I tip that most people reading this blog don't buy newspapers and get more news from the web than from TV. In ten years that will be a majority of the population, and the advertisers will follow them.

Traditional Big Media is toast and they know it. Expect even more frenzied jockeying for position in the form of takeovers and deals as the boys running the big companies strive to get on high ground.

Of course they will have to defenestrate the dead-wood - Phatty Phil would be the obvious first choice.

Posted by: Arik at February 4, 2004 at 09:34 AM

Speaking of journalists, this one has a point:

"THE fog of terror has lifted and John Howard's weakness is again exposed. The Prime Minister seems like an actor who's lost his lines. No wonder he's been urging his ministers to think up ideas for him to discuss....Labor leader Mark Latham, however, says a lot that's colourful, and quoted, even if it's as profound as graffiti. He sells optimism, and uses the word "opportunity'' as often as Howard says "terror''. I don't say Latham has the policies, smarts or appeal to win an election. But I do say Howard looks like a man who's run out of things to say."

No, not Margo Kingston or Phillip Adams.

Andrew Bolt.

Posted by: Nemesis at February 4, 2004 at 10:11 AM


The Bolta is his own man. He's got a good point about John Howard.

But whats your point Nemesis ? Or did you get such a delicious tingle at the base your proverbial when you saw a supposed RWDB criticise John Winston that you just HAD to share it with us, regardless of context ?

I think you need to seriously think about your life Nemesis - why do you hang out at this RWDB blog, posting any inanity that may get you some attention, negative as it is.

Are you really at that phsychological end-point where 'any attention, good or bad, is craved' ?

Perhaps we can help you - do you have enough love in your life ? I'm reaching out to you here Nemesis - respond to me and your life could start to turn around ...

Posted by: Arik at February 4, 2004 at 10:21 AM

Definitely tingling.

There's always much rejoicing at the return of a prodigal son. (Though doubtless AB will revert to type soon enough, maybe when "Finding Nemo - Again" is released).

Thank you for your kind offer of assistance. But the fact that I quite clearly get under your skin is quite reward enough, so I'll decline.

For now I'll content myself with irritating the shit out of people like you. This seems to me to be noble work, and it's why I hang around here.

Seems to work quite well really, and I thank you again for your feedback.

Posted by: Nemesis at February 4, 2004 at 10:36 AM

Okay, so Iraq may not have WMD. That means either Saddam was duped himself, or was bluffing. Either way, tough shit.

If the WMD were moved to Syria, let's see if Assad has the balls to use it. If he does, Damascus is a car park (courtesy of US or Israel)and all that will be left to do is paint the lines.

Same goes if terrorists get their hands on ex-Iraqi WMD and use them. If you can't hit the terrorists, hit the pricks who support them. Again, Damascus, Tehran, Riyadh or whoever else is stupid enough to fight the USA and Israel by proxy is a car park.

Posted by: steve at February 4, 2004 at 10:56 AM

You're feeling better already, aren't you ?

Just take it easy, one step at a time - you enjoy hanging out here don't you ? Some guys hang out in gay joints trying to convince them of the errors of their ways - why do they do that, you ever wonder ?

Nemesis you may actually have the makings of a real man inside you - let it out. Come over to the 'right' side. The forces of darkness are calling you Nemesis - come to us ...

No, I didn't kill your father Nemesis - I AM your father

Posted by: Arik at February 4, 2004 at 11:10 AM

Nemesis isn't too good at nuances. That's why when he finds something less-than-favorable about what he thinks is one of you guys' heroes, he thinks you'd all react the way he did when he found out there was no Santa Claus. (Which I am guessing was this past Christmas, accounting for his feeble bitterness.)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at February 4, 2004 at 11:27 AM

Not only does Nemo think he's in a gay joint, he's hanging out for a knob polish as well.

Posted by: Freddyboy at February 4, 2004 at 12:10 PM

Easy Freddyboy - we don't want to scare him off do we (or then again ...)

Its OK Nemesis, Freddyboy was only joking. Just relax, come on inside - take off your jacket.

And when you get settled, Freddyboy's got a nice rocket you guys can fool around with - be careful but, it might go off!

Posted by: Arik at February 4, 2004 at 01:50 PM