TONY Blair, who was then prime minister of the United Kingdom, at a joint media briefing at Camp David in the United States on September 7, 2002, said, ‘The threat from Saddam Hussein and [his] weapons of mass destruction chemical, biological and potentially nuclear weapons capability, that threat is real.’ US president George W Bush supported the statement, adding, ‘I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were finally denied access to a report… that they were six months away from developing weapon.
In addressing the British parliament on September 24, 2002, Tony Blair said, ‘… Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, that Saddam has continued to produce them, that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes, … he is actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability…. The history of Saddam and WMD is not American or British propaganda. The history and the present threat are real.’
Fifteen days before the invasion of Iraq, US secretary of state Colin Powell went to the United Nations Security Council on February 5, 2003 ‘with evidence of WMD in Saddam’s arsenal and his terror link with al-Qaeda’. But his ‘ham-fisted speech and pictorial evidence’ in multimedia presentation lacked credibility. Consequently, the Security Council did not authorise the Untied States to invade Iraq.
The idea of attacking Iraq was floated in the late 1990s and the plan to invade Iraq began in 2001. President George W Bush’s State of the Union address on January 29, 2002 was the formal public disclosure of making the case for war against Iraq. Besides linking Saddam Hussein to terrorism, the US president also deliberated on Iraqi president’s decade-long resolve to develop anthrax, nerve gas and nuclear weapon. The president delivered the speech after making the decision, ‘Saddam Hussein must be removed’ before the election of 2004.
After the US president’s State of the Union speech, Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defence, said on February 4, 2002 that ‘they had no choice but to change the regime.’ US deputy secretary of defence Paul Wolfowitz said on May 9, 2002, ‘It was fair to say that Saddam’s days were numbered.’ During a press briefing on September 3, 2002, Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary told journalists, ‘The policy of the United State is regime change with or without [UN] inspectors.’
Members of the US administration continued to display confidence about the existence of WMD in Iraq. During a Congressional inquiry on February 11, 2003 by the senate select committee on intelligence, Virginia Republican senator John Warner asked the CIA director George Tenet, ‘In the event that force is used and after the dust settles and the world press and others can go in and assess the situation, is it your judgement that there will be clearly caches of weapons of mass destruction which will dispel any doubt that the United States and such other nation that joined in the use of force did the right thing at the right time.’ The CIA director replied, ‘Sir, I think will find caches of weapons of mass destruction, absolutely.’
As in having the confidence about finding WMD in Iraq, the US administration was equally confident about Iraq’s terror link to al-Qaeda. On September 28, 2002, Donald Rumsfeld came up with ‘bulletproof evidence of Iraq’s links to al-Qaeda’ taken from US intelligence. The US National Security adviser told the press that Saddam Hussein had the ‘operation control of the 9/11 attack.’
Thirteen years after the Iraq war, Donald Trump, the presidential candidate in the run up 2016 election, at a campaign rally on July 5, 2016 praised Saddam Hussein for killing terrorists. He accused president George W Bush for destabilising Iraq by invading the country in 2003 which became breeding a ground for terrorists.
US politico-diplomatic campaigns to establish the case for the war had two objectives. One was to mobilise domestic opinions and the other was to secure international support and, in turn, to get the Security Council endorsement. Despite intense political campaigns, domestic opinions were divided and international opinions did not rally behind the United States.
The US policy of war encountered opposition from governments of France, Russia, China, Germany, Turkey, the Arab League and many other countries, opened a rift at NATO and at the United Nations and made millions of ordinary citizens around the world take to the streets in anti-war protests. Defying the world opinions, president Bush, during the Congressional campaign rally in October 2002, reminded people around the world of the infamous Bush doctrine that he laid post 9/11, ‘Either you’re with us, either you love freedom and with nations which embraces freedom or you’re with enemy.’ He did not want to go war alone and formed a ‘coalition of the willing.’
Six months before the attack, president Bush told 11 members of the US house of representatives that the Untied States would soon have to deal with a greater danger, ‘The biggest threat, however, is Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. He can blow up Israel and that would trigger an international conflict.’ In fact, Saddam Hussein was nowhere close to blowing up Israel. Frustrated Palestinians were blowing themselves up along with Israelis across Israel in 2001 and 2002. George W Bush indicated at Saddam Hussein’s collaboration with frustrated Palestinians in his State of Union address saying, ‘Our enemies send other people’s children on missions of suicide and murder.’
While Israel was caught off-guards by massive suicide bombing across Israel, pro-Zionist ‘neo-conservatives’ in the Bush administration were seeking a Middle East war. A war on Arab land to bolster Israel’s security in the region. They were backed by the Israeli government, which also pressured the White House to strike Iraq. Mark Weber, director of the Institute for Historical Review, concluded, ‘Whatever the secondary reasons for the war, the crucial factor in President Bush’s decision to attack was to help Israel.’
The Untied States led the ‘coalition of the willing comprising of 35 countries’ and invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003. The major combat ended with president Bush’s declaration on board USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1 2003. Saddam Hussain was arrested on December 13, 2003 and was hanged on December 30, 2006. The war in Iraq officially ended in June 2011 after more than eight years of the occupation of Iraq. US invasion of Iraq is in the 18th year. But where is the bomb?
Author Mohammad Abdur Razzak is a security analyst and retired Commodore of Bangladesh Navy.