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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

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Foreign Media Reaction

January 19, 2005

IRAQ: END OF THE WMD HUNT A 'BITTER EPILOGUE' TO WAR

KEY FINDINGS

** Absence of WMD means "America was spooked to war on an untruth."

** Conservative dailies assert, WMD aside, there were other "sound reasons" for the war.

** Unharmed politically at home, Bush finds his credibility shaken overseas .

MAJOR THEMES

'There was no smoking gun'-- Commentators labeled the "fruitless search" for Iraq's WMD "more than an embarassment"--it is "perhaps the worst American intelligence failure since Pearl Harbor," said the conservative Australian. Critics of the Iraq war pointed out the "infamous end" to the search for WMD occurred "quietly, almost furtively" and was "followed by silence from the White House." The failure to find WMD, said German papers, "left behind a war that has lost its main reason." Some editorialists allowed that pre-war assessments of Iraq's WMD stockpiles might have been "an understandable error" but far more labeled U.S. WMD claims "blown up out of all proportion" and "lies, all lies." Non-existent weapons "were used as a propaganda banner to start a war that Washington was determined to fight anyway," stated Spain's left-of-center El País.

'At least say Sorry'-- Dailies in Australia and Germany argued that failure to find WMD did not "invalidate...the decision to go to war," saying there were other "sound reasons" for doing so. Skeptics countered that without WMD, the U.S. "would never have been able to drag along such a disparate coalition" into Iraq. These observers derided President Bush's assertion that the world was safer after Saddam's removal and charged that Iraq had become "a hell on earth." "Obsessed with the destruction of a threat that was not there," Saudi Arabia's pro-government Arab News concluded, Bush "played midwife to a worse threat." Editorialists in Pakistan charged that it was now proven that Saddam was a "threat to nobody and that the attack and destruction of Iraq is a grave crime." They demanded the architects of the war "be tried for crimes against humanity." India's centrist Asian Age spoke for many when it argued that "Bush at the least owes an apology to the world."

'Serious setback' to credibility'-- Analysts opined that the WMD "fiasco" would "not affect President Bush's career now that he has been re-elected" and noted that Bush "is not tormented by doubts," given how he "shrugged off" the failure to find WMD. Writers judged, though, that the "bitter truth" of finding no WMD was now "crucial" to Bush's credibility. "Bush now has to find a way to be convincing when...he invites allies to jointly respond to a future threat," remarked Croatia's government-owned Viesnik. "The Bush administration has no error for margin left," a French journal declared, while another European observed that the WMD flap has "cast doubt over...Bush's optimism" about Iraq's future. The "litmus test" of the president's credibility, a German writer asserted, lies in Iraq's elections and whether or not they lead to that country's democratization and stabilization.

Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, rmrmail@state.gov

EDITOR: Steven Wangsness

EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 35 reports from 20 countries January 13-18, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.

EUROPE

BRITAIN: "A Tragedy Based On A Pack Of Lies"

The conservative tabloid Daily Mail commented (1/13): "Quietly, almost furtively, the search for Saddam's weapons of mass destruction has been abandoned. Though the decision was taken last month, not a peep has been heard from Tony Blair or President Bush. Don't they owe...their voters--and the wider world--an explanation?... Iraq itself has become a hell on earth. This month's elections--if held at all--will do nothing to end the nihilist violence. And there is no obvious way out. Yet there were no WMD. There never were."

FRANCE: "Iraq Plunges Into Chaos"

Thomas de Rochechouard commented in right-of-center France Soir (1/14): "President Bush's fate appears to be tied to the future of Iraq.... Can the situation change after the elections? Nothing is less certain.... The elections could very well lead Iraq to partition or a civil war. In short, it is a hotbed of instability for the entire Middle East, which looks as if it is very far from the 'virtuous domino effect' promoted two years ago by President Bush.... These elections are akin to the last throw of the dice for the U.S. president.... Although he still hopes to come out the winner, for the time being President Bush's achievements in Iraq are catastrophic: a country given to bloodshed and violence, daily U.S. casualties, threat of civil war, re-enforced terrorist groups and a deteriorating U.S. image.... After having acknowledged the absence of WMD in Iraq, the Bush administration has no margin for error left.... President Bush has no choice but to bring improvement to a region which has become a powder keg."

GERMANY: "Superpower In An Impasse"

Werner Menner argued in right-of-center Muenchner Merkur (1/14): "No one would argue with Bush that Saddam posed a danger. That the tyrant has departed is neither a loss for his people or mankind. But that was not the reason for going to war, according to Washington's statements before the war. The U.S. administration claimed that there was a connection between Saddam and al-Qaida, but it never existed. A campaign against weapons of mass destruction was started, but weapons searchers were secretly withdrawn from Iraq when they could not find any.... The world is not a safer place because of this war. On the contrary, new and popular terror networks were established. Violence and death mark life in Iraq and the entire Middle East is destabilized. Emphasizing mistakes in this situation is wrong, especially because it is getting clearer that the U.S. cannot win this religious war. Bush and the United States need help in the Middle East. It will be easier to get this help when the president admits that Washington has misjudged the situation in Iraq right from the start. This move would express strength."

"Who Owns Iraq"

Stefan Kornelius opined in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (1/14): "The reasons why the war was waged are disappearing.... The successful liberation from tyranny and the boasted promise to democratize the region are the remaining reasons for going war. Almost two years after the invasion and a few months after Bush's impressive reelection, the president's credibility faces its litmus test: Iraqis are supposed to vote, not just legitimizing its political leadership but simultaneously beginning a phase of stabilization, so America can militarily pull out.... In Washington, they currently talk about the conditions under which troops could be brought home as fast as possible. This is wishful thinking and probably the seed of the worst decision Bush could make in relation to the occupation: withdrawal without leaving behind a really strong and legitimated Iraqi government, but insufficiently trained Iraqi troops and police officers, and with no idea how the country' religious conflict could be resolved. Bush has one option to avert this scenario: he must postpone elections and deprive the date of its exaggerated importance. Secondly, he must only withdraw when the country is not at risk of plunging into anarchy. He still owns Iraq."

"Searching For Weapons"

Torsten Krauel noted in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (1/14): "The unsuccessful closure of the search for weapons in Iraq also puts an end to the debate over the reason for going war. The rhetoric of the reasoning was the problem, not the content. Statements about a nuclear attack on U.S. towns concealed that there were sound reasons for the war. Only because of U.S. pressure the UNSC declared at the end of 2002 that Saddam ignored the resolutions on its illegal weapons. Iraq had signed the nuclear nonproliferation treaty and agreed to cooperate, but Saddam's policy undermined the authority of the United Nations at a time when the White House already knew about Pakistani Khan's nuclear network as well as the Iranian and Libyan intentions. George Bush's verdict that no one would ever again doubt America's word after the Iraq war was a decisive factor in the attempt to put a stop to other countries' illegal weapons programs. The world was ready for this example."

"Bad Model"

Dietmar Ostermann asserted in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (1/14): "The search was secretly stopped and we are left behind with a war that has lost its main reason. This might not bother President Bush and the American people, because they believe that they have liberated Iraq from a brutal dictator. Bush still claims that the war was absolutely worth it. What else could he tell Americans? 1,300 U.S. soldiers have died. Forget about it. But the fruitless search for Saddam's weapons is more than an embarrassment. No one should be surprised that Iraqis do not trust American motives. This is devastating for Iraq's future."

RUSSIA: "Iraq Posed No Threat To Peace"

Veniamin Ginodman wrote in reformist Gazeta (1/14): "White House officials have acknowledged that U.S. arms inspectors have found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and returned home. With their mission complete, the chief casus belli remains unproven. Now the Americans are going to have to report to the UN Security Council on the results of their Iraq WMD operation. Unable to avoid the humiliating procedure, new Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will have to admit that Iraq posed no threat to peace."

"Proper Timing"

Aleksandr Gabuyev said in business-oriented Kommersant (1/14): "It took almost two years and reports by three special commissions for Washington to concede that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The timing is quite proper: the frank admission is not going to affect President Bush's career now that he has been re-elected."

AUSTRIA: "On The Losing Side"

Senior editor Hans Rauscher remarked in independent Der Standard (1/14): "In the meantime Bush has declared that the war against Iraq was worthwhile even if the search for weapons of mass destruction is now being abandoned. The man ought to be impeached because of his stupidity and/or criminal cynicism. That the Americans will actually lose the war is still something that nobody should hope for, first and foremost, because it would give a boost to terrorists everywhere on the globe. However, the Americans also cannot win the war. The best hope for everybody is that the Iraqis amongst themselves will achieve a relatively sensible solution."

"Withdrawal As Possible Exit Strategy"

Foreign affairs writer Christoph Winder noted for independent Der Standard (1/14): "Bush does not have to run for re-election any more, but the prospect of having his second term pass under the incessant staccato of evil tidings from Iraq, growing criticism and diminishing domestic acceptance of the war, has considerably increased the pressure on him.... If the security situation in Iraq remains as it is, meaning catastrophic, the Europeans' enthusiasm for a respective commitment is going to be limited. With all the uncertainty that prevails there is one thing that is certain: Bush will once again reach into the treasure box of political marketing tricks to sell the bad state of things as a great development. The definition criteria for what constitutes a 'victory' are being downscaled every day. The non-existence of weapons of mass destruction, the search for which has been halted since Christmas, Bush has shrugged off as unimportant: after all, the whole thing was worth it, Saddam was a bad criminal, and the world has become a safer place. We are in for more of Bush's pep rhetoric--even if, as Bush senior's national security advisor Brent Scowcroft prognosticates, the elections will not stem the tide of violence in Iraq, quite the contrary."

CROATIA: "At The End Of 'Hunt'"

Kresimir Fijacko contended in Zagreb-based government-owned Vjesnik (1/14): "Motive for the war was, therefore, invented, just like we have doubted all along. What now? Nothing. The war in Iraq has long time ago overgrown not only its motives and its sense, but also its expected range.... There were no weapons? Well, the White House says, 'but Saddam was certainly in a position to produce them, and besides, he thwarted UN sanctions.' At least the second part is correct. However, what's crucial in all this is Bush's credibility. After this discredit with non-existent weapons, because of which America had entered Iraq and found itself in a war of Vietnam magnitude. Bush now has to find a way to be convincing when, in the fight against terrorism, he invites allies to jointly respond to a future threat."

CZECH REPUBLIC: "Bitter Epilogue Of Bush's Assertions"

Jiri Roskot editorialized in center-left Pravo (1/14): "President Bush said in an interview for ABC Television that although no WMD were found in Iraq, the invasion was definitely worth the effort. According to Bush, Saddam was dangerous and the world is a more secure place without him in power.... In the case of disarmament of Iraq, Washington said that it is necessary to meet the UNSC's resolutions. If, however, the White House had known that there were no WMD in Iraq, what other justification would it have found? President Bush claimed that even other countries and the UN thought that Baghdad had deadly combat weapons. It was, however, thanks to his impatience that UN inspectors could not finish their work in Iraq in 2003, and this resulted in a conflict with the other members of the Security Council and some of its more restrained allies. The infamous end of the search for WMD in Iraq and the silence from the White House that followed it, cast doubt over the substance of Bush's optimism over future developments in Iraq.... It is understandable that Bush, who placed all his credit on the notion of establishing a democratic Iraq, would do whatever he could to justify himself, but his perception of the situation in Iraq is beginning to contrast starkly with reality. Instead of being healthily optimistic it begins to smack of the widely used marketing method of tireless repetitions of unfounded superlatives."

"Mistake As Big As A Lie"

Lubos Palata, the head of the center right Lidove noviny foreign desk, contended (1/13): "It could have been a mistake or a lie. The fact is that no WMD were found in Iraq. And as the search for them has been stopped, none will. WMD were the main justification for the war by the U.S. and the allies against Saddam Hussein. If the justification had been: 'Saddam has been laughing in our faces while not complying with UN resolutions, he is a mass murderer and a dangerous tyrant and we should have slain him during the first Gulf War,' then the reasons would have been truthful. The war, however, would have been much more difficult to explain to the Americans and the world at large. Time cannot be brought back, and it is a good thing that there is one tyrant less in the world. However, the international community and especially we the allies who believed the untruths about Saddam's weapons, and even repeated them, deserve at least a message from the White House: 'Sorry.'"

DENMARK: "Saddam's Bluff"

Center-right Berlingske Tidende argued (1/14): "[Saddam Hussein's dictatorship was] completely dependent on the ability to persuade the world that he had the weapons.... His rule was built on fear, and so he had to maintain the fear of mass destruction by refusing to cooperate with the weapons inspectors.... Events in Iraq have neither been pretty, harmonious nor painless but it still appears that the first democratic elections will be held in a few weeks.... The Coalition's political leaders seem to have won recognition [through re-election] as men of action in a time when it is always easiest to take a chance and let the world's rapid and chaotic developments look after themselves."

HUNGARY: "Man Of The Day"

Foreign affairs writer Eva Elekes opined in left of center Nepszava (1/14): "It is not President Bush's custom to apologize.... He is not tormented by doubts even now when the White House was compelled to admit that they had to finish looking for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in Iraq. According to Bush, it was 'absolutely worth it', since they have liquidated the Public Enemy Number One of America--and of the Bush family.... It was worth it, although in the meantime, Iraq has really become the hotbed of terrorism, and Washington is feverishly looking for a solution to pull out with minimal loss of face, as soon as possible. Bush is confident, since in November half of the country voted for him, and he does not really care what the other half thinks. He will have four years to settle accounts with history."

PORTUGAL: "The Surrender Of The Weapons"

Nuno Pacheco editorialized in influential moderate-left Público (1/16): "Almost two years after Colin Powell asserted, in front of the [General] Assembly of the United Nations, that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction...the U.S. has abandoned the search for such weapons in Iraq. [The U.S.] did not give up due to fatigue or weakness, but rather because it became convinced that Iraq did not, in fact, possess such fear-inspiring weapons.... There is, finally, a public acknowledgement of the error [that weapons did not exist], now definitively underscored by the end of the search.... Nevertheless, the White House spokesman Scott McClellan...reaffirmed that '[Saddam Hussein's] regime had the intention and requisite capacities necessary for weapons of mass destruction'. The fact that they were not actually produced is, according to this view, irrelevant. How many countries, then, could be invaded or bombed on the basis of this rationalization? Isn't it time for the U.S. to admit, without making false apologies, its responsibilities in this case?"

SPAIN: "Blind Election"

Left-of-center El País editorialized (1/16): "Once discarded the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the U.S. does not have any other justification for war, occupation, and its presence in Iraq other than the establishment of a democracy no matter how imperfect it may be.... Only the success of this election, no matter how limited it may be, can create a situation in which the affirmation of President George W. Bush that the intervention 'was worth it' that will stop being an absolute sarcasm."

"Non-Existent Weapons"

Left-of-center El País editorialized (1/14): "Many of the opponents of the intervention in Iraq will see this acknowledgement [of no WMD] as proof that Bush and his allies lied to the world. Others will lay emphasis on the fiasco of the intelligence services on whose qualities Bush bases his doctrine of preventive war. The fact is that the non-existent weapons were used as a propaganda banner to start a war that Washington was determined to fight anyway. Many people may feel fully entitled to demand a public apology from Bush and his then allies. What is most important today is to make sure that the fiasco and false threat of those days (previous to the invasion) does not paralyze the necessary vigilance to prevent other countries or terrorist groups from getting hold of this kind of weapon (WMD). As the phenomenon of torture is a serious setback for the credibility of the fight against terrorism, the lies of the past make difficult the fight against the proliferation of these types of weapons that are a real risk. And the fact that the war in Iraq was started on the basis of lies dangerously takes us to the conclusion that what should be desirable in Iraq is a different scenario of the establishment of a regime that is capable of having a reasonable relationship of cooperation with its neighbors and the Western democracies, including the U.S., and fighting against the terrorism that has been produced by this foolish invasion."

SWITZERLAND: "Deception"

Tribune de Geneve took this view (1/14): "Take away the threat of WMD deliberately blown up out of all proportion by a gung-ho Administration Saddam Hussein becomes no more nor less than a sinister tyrant whom only his own people had reason to fear.... [Without the WMD threat] the USA would never have been able to drag along such a disparate coalition, nor openly to defy the UN and its charter...to overthrow a dictator just because he was not convenient.... So the 'preventive war' against Iraq was just another deception, meant to conceal a classic and brutal will for power."

MIDDLE EAST

SAUDI ARABIA: "WMD: Laid To Rest"

The English-language, pro-government Arab News had this to say (Internet version, 1/14): "Neither the WMD nor the devastating insurgency were present in Iraq when coalition troops checked their chemical and biological protective clothing on March 19, 2003, hours before the invasion. WMD, key to Washington's planning, was a lie. That is why President George Bush, who issued dire warnings about Iraq's WMD capability prior to the U.S.-led invasion, argues even now that the war was 'absolutely' worth fighting. The post-invasion insurgency, however, was not even considered by Washington's desktop strategists. Therein lies the fatal misjudgment of Bush. Obsessed with the destruction of a threat that was not there, he played midwife to a worse threat that seems all set to plunge Iraq into chaos and violence and deliver the United States its greatest humiliation since Vietnam. Nothing sums up the vacuousness of U.S. policy toward Iraq more than the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been wasted, sending weapons experts the length and breadth of the country on one wild goose chase after another.... Now retired Gen. Gary Luck has been sent in to conduct a security review in advance of the elections. The dispatch of this senior officer says much about the...rising surge of panic in the White House as Bush's place in history looks more and more like being a Vietnam-style swamp.... Vietnam showed how aggressive U.S. administrations could dig themselves and their allies ever deeper into a hole. Now America's friends in this region want to believe that the Bush White House has the imagination and flexibility to recast its failing Iraqi policy. They want to believe that someone in Washington knows what the U.S. is doing in the Middle East, that someone understands how a deadly insurrection has been conjured out of defeat and how Iraq has been turned into a shooting gallery for the international terrorists whom the invasion was supposed to defeat."

"So Much For WMD"

The pro-government, English-language Saudi Gazette commented (Internet version, 1/14): "It's official. The search for Saddam Hussein's elusive weapons of mass destruction is over.... The question that arises is if it matters that WMD have not been found. It has been a matter of speculation, even before the invasion of Iraq, whether the weapons issue was a pretext for the toppling of a regime which Washington wanted gone even though its links to the events of 9/11 were tenuous. In an interview with the BBC David Kay pointed out the difficulty of motivating people in the field who knew all they are doing was going through busywork motions because they themselves knew there were no weapons there. I faced that over a year ago with a team that essentially knew that we were right when we said there were no weapons, he said. Kay is simply voicing the sentiments expressed by his predecessor UN weapons inspector Hans Blix whose own assessment that Saddam Hussein posed little or no threat was also brushed aside by Washington and London prior to the Iraq invasion. On hearing that Duelfer would not be returning to Iraq, Blix said he assumed the United States would now report its finding to the UN Security Council because the U.S. took the inspections out of the hands of the UN to undertake it themselves. That, of course, is the point. Blix and his team of UN inspectors had to be discredited to provide an excuse for toppling Saddam Hussein. Discrediting international institutions is surely too high a price to pay for narrow visions of national interest as followed by the Bush and Blair administrations."

UAE: "So There Was No Smoking Gun"

The English-language, expatriate-oriented Gulf News concluded (Internet version, 1/14): "Oh, so quietly it could easily have been missed, the United States has decided that, after all is said and done, there are no hidden weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.... The Bush administration now concedes what the majority of people knew all along, since the time UN weapons inspector Hans Blix informed the Security Council there was nothing to be seen. Not even those supposed weapons sites the American intelligence claimed were stocked with all sorts of mysterious and lethal weapons. All proven to be faulty intelligence, as much else of the Iraq farrago has proven to be.... [WMD were] the expressed reason for going to war in Iraq. What has been proven is that the statements were lies, all lies. As indeed were the oft-repeated statements by Bush and his cohorts that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks and al-Qaida. Subsequent evidence has shown that those statements were also lies, all lies. But good enough to put the fear of God into Americans and ensure a return to power for Bush. Good enough for the majority of the American public to now become so insular and protective in their thinking that anything or anyone of Middle Eastern persuasion is immediately looked upon with great suspicion. Good enough for the Bush administration to ride roughshod over many hard-won liberties and freedoms."

EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC

AUSTRALIA: "The Case For Iraq War Remains Strong"

The national conservative Australian editorialized (1/14): "The U.S. weapons inspectors in Iraq are going home, admitting that Saddam Hussein's arsenals of weapons of mass destruction were empty at the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. This is perhaps the worst American intelligence failure since Pearl Harbor. But it was an understandable error.... As independent assessments in the U.S., Britain and Australia have all pointed out, the best pre-war intelligence was that Saddam was armed and dangerous.... That the West is better off with him gone is beyond doubt, but are the Iraqi people? The easy answer is no--that the terrorists have already taken Iraq too close to anarchy. They may yet prevail, dividing the country into warring Sunni and Shiite theocracies. But if credible elections are held at the end of the month, and if the resulting government can impose its writ across the country while respecting the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, the prospects for a stable, democratic Iraq will be much improved. This would be a result worth a great deal of blood and treasure.... The ultimate outcome may yet show the war to remove Saddam Hussein was a great achievement."

"The Awful Weapons That Were Not There"

The liberal Sydney Morning Herald asserted (1/14): "So it's official. The Bush administration has at last declared that the physical hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has been abandoned. The belated confirmation of earlier press reports amounts to a tacit, but far from contrite, acknowledgment that the primary justification given by the U.S., British and Australian governments for invading Iraq was not based on fact.... What is the lesson to be learnt from a war launched on assumptions that proved false? Well, it is not necessarily that Mr. Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard were insincere from the start in their stated belief that Saddam had WMD and was prepared to use them. After all, the Iraqi dictator had certainly had them in the past and used them, and done other monstrous things besides. Nor does the subsequent failure to find WMD invalidate, in itself, the decision to go to war. There were other reasons, including humanitarian ones, for acting.... There is a moral to the story of the weapons that were not there. Real political leadership requires a readiness to resist the temptations to listen only to what one wishes to hear, to discount contrary evidence or even cautionary advice and instead to discredit those who provide it."

VIETNAM: "Uncovering And Being Uncovered"

Trieu Anh Tuc wrote in Nong Thon Ngay Nay, run by the Vietnam Farmers' Association (1/17): "After two years searching, the Bush administration has recognized that they did not find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and ended the search. In the past, they spoke very loudly, now they are very quiet. The deceitfulness has uncovered itself and the deceiver has been uncovered.... The target and the nature of the war were not weapons of mass destruction. Rather than that, it was toppling Mr. Hussein, it was using military strength to realize their strategic calculations in the region, disregarding everyone else. They even invented a WMD threat to wage a real war."

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

INDIA: "Worse Off"

The centrist Asian Age commented (1/18): "The American people and the Congress were conned into believing that the Iraqi dictator was a threat to the United States by the alarmist chorus orchestrated by Messrs. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice.... Bush at the least owes an apology to the world. But he is still adamant that his invasion and occupation of Iraq were legitimate. In a bid to justify the unjustifiable, he now says that the world is better off with Hussein deposed. But like his previous statements, even this claim is patently false.... The world will be better off when taking a lesson from the Iraq fiasco, Bush will abandon his discredited doctrine of pre-emptive war."

"America Winds Up Its Hunt For Weapons Of Mass Destruction"

The Mumbai edition of centrist Gujarati-language daily Gujaratmitra commented (1/17): "Two years after the U.S. invaded Iraq on the pretext that the latter had weapons of mass destruction (WMD), it has finally wound up its search operations in this regard. Ousted former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had, in fact, denied possessing any such nuclear armaments at the time when the U.S. intelligence agencies reported that Iraq had the capability to launch a nuclear attack within 45 minutes. It is surprising to know that although the United Nations, after the Gulf War during Senior Bush's presidency, was engaged in identifying the nuclear capabilities in Iraq and disarming them, the U.S. continuously interfered in this work. Fed up with such unwarranted meddling by the U.S., Iraq finally drove out the UN observers from its soil. However, by that point of time the disarmament of weapons in Iraq had been almost over. There was no question of Saddam Hussein rebuilding a similar nuclear infrastructure, as Iraq was reeling under the sanctions imposed by the UN. President Bush was in no mood to disclose the facts vis-à-vis Iraq, as the presidential elections were due then. Now that he has been elected for a second term, he has nothing to lose in revealing the correct picture.... Only time will tell whether any action will be taken against President Bush if he is found guilty for the mess in Iraq."

"Wicked Trickery"

Calcutta's independent Bengali-language Anandabazar Patrika stated (1/17): "There is no doubt about the existence of bin Laden or al-Qaida...[but] ultimately Iraq's WMD could not be discovered at all! Now it is quite clear to the entire world that the issue of WMD was merely a ploy behind the U.S. aggression.... Eighteenth and nineteenth century colonial reasoning has now been transformed into the superpower's argument in today's unipolar world. Consequently, if this draconian principle is implemented against Iran and North Korea, identified by President Bush as the 'axis of evil,' those countries too would reach the precipice of imminent danger and destruction. Significantly, the pitch of accusation by the Bush administration regarding nuclear arms development by both the countries is gradually rising.... The problem is, chances are remote that Bush will take lessons from past results.... And there is no one to stop him."

PAKISTAN: "The WMD Jig Is Up"

The Lahore-based liberal English-language Daily Times opined (1/13): "Charles Duelfer...has wrapped up his work in that country and says there are no WMD to be found because there were none.... What next? There are two issues here. The U.S. knew it was using a pretext to sell its Iraq project. But as the ground situation in Iraq has unfolded, it is the insurgency that has troubled the U.S. more than anything else. Being proven wrong on the WMD was never going to get the Bush administration out of that country, but the rising losses and costs cannot be shrugged away. This is why we now have the prospect of the U.S. withdrawing from Iraq following the January elections there. The second aspect is scarier. Given how the U.S. moved into Iraq but has avoided taking on North Korea, the lesson for many states around the world is clear. The low-cost option for them is to try and get weapons of mass destruction. This course is not only necessitated by America's geopolitical strategy as it has unfolded since September 11, 2001 but is also dictated by the logic of deterrence. Add to this explosive mix Bush administration's policies that have made a hash of non-proliferation and moved the issue into the domain of counter-proliferation and the world should prepare itself to face a more insecure strategic environment in the years to come. Ironically, all the impending insecurity will have been generated because the U.S. under George W. Bush was obsessed with 'securing itself' and the rest of the world."

"Sorry, No WMD"

The center-right national English-language Nation editorialized (1/13): "This week, the Iraq Survey Group has officially admitted closing the search for Iraq's biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.... Surely the world community now has a moral obligation to ensure that no one takes on such a wicked venture in future. It must pressurize Washington to pay heavy financial compensation to a country it decimated. Those involved in executing the most dishonest war project in recent history must be tried for crimes against humanity in the Hague Tribunal. And surely the Bush administration must be asked to demonstrate its remorse by immediately removing its presence from Iraq after admitting such a major blunder."

"The Search For WMD Ends In Iraq"

The center-right Urdu-language Pakistan editorialized (1/14): "America has stopped looking for WMD in Iraq thus proving that it had attacked Iraq on a false pretext.... Who is responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of people and large-scale destruction of Iraq? The UN should bring the U.S. in the dock and hold it accountable for the war."

"U.S. Acknowledgment Of Defeat"

The Karachi-based, right-wing, pro-Islamic unity Urdu-language Jasarat declared (1/14): "The Bush administration has ultimately acknowledged its lie. U.S. officials have confirmed that the administration has given up the search of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Bush had presented this as the biggest justification for attacking Iraq that Saddam government was in possession of highly deadly weapons threatening the mankind. Now that it has been proved that Saddam government was threat to nobody, and that the attack and destruction of Iraq is a grave crime, Bush and Blair should be brought to the international court of justice for war crimes prosecution."

AFRICA

KENYA: "Where Are Those Weapons?"

The independent left-of-center Nation commented (1/14): "According to a report in the Washington Post, American investigators have returned home empty-handed after two years in Iraq searching for weapons of mass destruction.... Even more urgently, what shall become of Iraq, now weak and vulnerable to outside aggression? Who shall ensure their precious oil is not siphoned off, leaving its people even poorer and hungrier? The UN has its hands full with disasters, both man-made and natural, stretching from Sudan to Sri Lanka. Perhaps the best thing the world community can do for Iraq is to ensure another senseless war is not allowed to happen before all avenues for peace have been explored."

WESTERN HEMISPHERE

CANADA: "Empty Hands In Iraq"

The liberal Toronto Star opined (1/14): "While Bush promised peace and security, Iraq seems to grow more violently chaotic by the day as the Jan. 30 election draws near. The war has deflected Washington from tracking down Osama bin Laden. It has damaged its credibility and has strained ties with allies. As they contemplate this fiasco, Americans must also finally confront the bitter truth that Saddam had no nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.... America was spooked to war on an untruth. After an exhaustive search for weapons, Charles Duelfer's 1,700-strong Iraq Survey Group has quietly abandoned its fruitless quest.... It comes home empty-handed. Still, Bush insists 'Saddam was dangerous and the world is safer without him in power.' But United Nations military and economic sanctions had effectively contained Iraq before the U.S. invasion. The 'pre-emptive' U.S. attack, launched without United Nations' approval, was uncalled for. Americans have been slow to recognize that reality. Sadly, fully 2 in 5 still believe the weapons were there.... Bush got it spectacularly wrong on Iraq, and U.S. intelligence proved disastrously inadequate. The Security Council got it right, asking the U.S. not to attack until inspectors could probe more deeply. And former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien was justified in refusing to lend Canada's support for America's first reckless venture into preventive war, despite pressure from Bush. As Prime Minister Paul Martin works to deepen the Canada/U.S. political and security partnership, the Iraq Survey Group's starkly empty hands are a reminder that Washington does not have all the right answers, all the time."

"Prez Never Has To Say He's Sorry"

Columnist Michael Harris commented in the conservative tabloid Ottawa Sun (1/14): "News that the hunt was over for [WMD] in Iraq came...from stories printed in the Washington Post. Right to the end, the CIA ran true to form, refusing to authorize any official involved in the weapons search to speak on the record. As for the hundreds of millions of dollars squandered on trying to save Bush's bacon on WMD, the Pentagon says there will be no public accounting. The old story; nothing is more classified than government fiascoes. So what now does the record look like? First, the U.S. and Britain invaded a sovereign nation without provocation and without cause. Like it or lump it, that's the skinny. It turns out that Hans Blix...and most of the world had it right; war in Iraq was not a policy of last resort but an unjustified aggression measured against the only thing that counts--its own stated rationale. Second, all of the foundational pre-war statements by President Bush, Vice-President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld have been refuted: no WMD, no reconstituted nuclear program, no al-Qaida link, and no adoring Iraqi crowds festooning U.S. tanks with flowers. Third, the casualties have been horrific.... Fourth, the Bush administration has sanctioned tactics in Iraq that have nothing to do with American principles, either legal or moral.... The Big Lie has now morphed into the Even Bigger Lie, the great democratic leap forward that Iraq is supposed to be taking in a few weeks. The Bush administration is touting this month's elections as the turning point for the 'new' Iraq. Outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell is even hinting that U.S. troops start coming home as early as this year if things go well.... As for the man who inspired the war on terror, Osama Bin Laden is unaccountably still at large.... Instead of pursuing the culprit of 9/11, the overwhelming weight of U.S. force is being squandered in Iraq for reasons other than the ones stated, while it is left to Pakistan to deal with Islam's Holy Terror. Has this strategy made the world, let alone the U.S., safer? Not according to the man left in charge of hunting down al-Qaida's elusive leader.... But Americans continue to snooze in front of the strange news that their president had it dead wrong, treating this week's revelation that there were and are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq like an unexpected upset in a college football game.... Dan Rather had not only to eat his words, he had to choke on them. George Bush merely produced a new mantra, whose retroactivity doesn't seem to bother a red-white-and-blue soul south of the border. Reflexive patriotism is such a soothing substitute for the truth."

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