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Published on Tuesday, October 4, 2005 by the Independent
How The World Was Duped: The Race To Invade Iraq
by Robert Fisk

The 5th of February 2003 was a snow-blasted day in New York, the steam whirling out of the road covers, the US secret servicemen — helpfully wearing jackets with "Secret Service" printed on them — hugging themselves outside the fustian, asbestos-packed UN headquarters on the East River.

Exhausted though I was after travelling thousands of miles around the United States, the idea of watching Secretary of State Colin Powell — or General Powell, as he was now being reverently redubbed in some American newspapers — make his last pitch for war before the Security Council was an experience not to be missed.

In a few days, I would be in Baghdad to watch the start of this frivolous, demented conflict.

Powell's appearance essential prologue

Powell's appearance at the Security Council was the essential prologue to the tragedy — or tragicomedy if one could contain one's anger — the appearance of the Attendant Lord who would explain the story of the drama, the Horatio to the increasingly unstable Hamlet in the White House.

There was an almost macabre opening to the play when General Powell arrived at the Security Council, cheek-kissing the delegates and winding his great arms around them.

CIA director George Tenet, chunky, aggressive but obedient

CIA director George Tenet stood behind Powell, chunky, aggressive but obedient, just a little bit lip-biting, an Edward G Robinson who must have convinced himself that the more dubious of his information was buried beneath an adequate depth of moral fury and fear to be safely concealed.

Just like Bush's appearance at the General Assembly the previous September, you needed to be in the Security Council to see what the television cameras missed.

There was a wonderful moment when the little British home secretary Jack Straw entered the chamber through the far right-hand door in a massive power suit, his double-breasted jacket apparently wrapping itself twice around Britain's most famous ex-Trot.

He stood for a moment with a kind of semi-benign smile on his uplifted face, his nose in the air as if sniffing for power.

Then he saw Powell and his smile opened like an umbrella as his small feet, scuttling beneath him, propelled him across the stage and into the arms of Powell for his big American hug.

Toothy smiles and constant handshakes

You might have thought that the whole chamber, with its toothy smiles and constant handshakes, contained a room full of men celebrating peace rather than war.

Alas, not so.

These elegantly dressed statesmen were constructing the framework that would allow them to kill quite a lot of people — some of them Saddam's little monsters no doubt, but most of them innocent.

When Powell rose to give his terror-talk, he did so with a slow athleticism, the world-weary warrior whose patience had at last reached its end.

But it was an old movie.

I should have guessed.

Sources, foreign intelligence sources, "our sources", defectors, sources, sources, sources.

Ah, to be so well-sourced when you have already taken the decision to go to war.

The Powell presentation sounded like one of those government-inspired reports on the front page of The New York Times — where it was, of course, treated with due reverence next day.

Like heating up old soup

It was a bit like heating up old soup.

Hadn't we heard most of this stuff before?

Should one trust the man?

General Powell, I mean, not Saddam.

Certainly we didn't trust Saddam, but Powell's speech was a mixture of awesomely funny recordings of Iraqi Republican Guard telephone intercepts à la Samuel Beckett that just might have been some terrifying proof that Saddam really was conning the UN inspectors again, and ancient material on the Monster of Baghdad's all too well known record of beastliness.

"OK, buddy" — "Consider it done, sir"

If only we could have heard the Arabic for the State Department's translation of "OK, buddy" — "Consider it done, sir" — this from the Republican Guard's "Captain Ibrahim", for heaven's sake.

The dinky illustrations of mobile Iraqi bio-labs whose lorries and railway trucks were in such perfect condition suggested the Pentagon didn't have much idea of the dilapidated state of Saddam's railway system, let alone his army.

It was when we went back to Halabja and human rights abuses and all Saddam's indubitable sins, as recorded by the discredited Unscom team, that we started eating the old soup again.

Jack Straw may have thought all this "the most powerful and authoritative case" for war — his ill-considered opinion afterwards — but when we were forced to listen to the Iraqi officer corps communicating by phone "Yeah", "Yeah" , "Yeah?", "Yeah . . ." — it was impossible not to ask oneself if Colin Powell had really considered the effect this would have on the outside world.

From time to time, the words "Iraq: Failing to Disarm — Denial and Deception" appeared on the giant video screen behind General Powell.

Was this a CNN logo? some of us wondered.

But no, it was the work of CNN's sister channel, the US Department of State.

Because Colin Powell was supposed to be the good cop to the Bush- Rumsfeld bad cop routine, one wanted to believe him.

Remove 'nerve agents' whenever it comes up in the wireless instructions

The Iraqi officer's telephone-tapped order to his subordinate — "Remove 'nerve agents' whenever it comes up in the wireless instructions" — seemed to indicate that the Americans had indeed spotted a nasty new line in Iraqi deception.

But a dramatic picture of a pilotless Iraqi aircraft capable of spraying poison chemicals turned out to be the imaginative work of a Pentagon artist.

And when Secretary Powell started talking about "decades" of contact between Saddam and al-Qa'ida, things went wrong for the " General ".

Al-Qa'ida only came into existence in 2000, since bin Laden — " decades" ago — was working against the Russians for the CIA, whose present-day director was sitting grave-faced behind Mr Powell.

It was the United States which had enjoyed at least a "decade" of contacts with Saddam.

Powell's new version of his President's State of the Union lie

Powell's new version of his President's State of the Union lie — that the " scientists" interviewed by UN inspectors had been Iraqi intelligence agents in disguise — was singularly unimpressive.

The UN talked to Iraqi scientists during their inspection tours, the new version went, but the Iraqis were posing for the real nuclear and bio boys whom the UN wanted to talk to.

General Powell said America was sharing its information with the UN inspectors, but it was clear already that much of what he had to say about alleged new weapons development — the decontamination truck at the Taji chemical munitions factory, for example, the "cleaning" of the Ibn al- Haythem ballistic missile factory on 25 November — had not been given to the UN at the time.

Why wasn't this intelligence information given to the inspectors months ago?

Didn't General Powell's beloved UN Resolution demand that all such intelligence information should be given to Hans Blix and his lads immediately?

Were the Americans, perhaps, not being "proactive" enough?

Or did they realise that if the UN inspectors had chased these particular hares, they would have turned out to be as bogus as indeed they later proved to be?

While not precisely saying so — fraudulently suggesting a connection between Saddam Hussein and the anthrax scare

The worst moment came when General Powell discussed anthrax and the 2001 anthrax attacks in Washington and New York, pathetically holding up a teaspoon of the imaginary spores and — while not precisely saying so — fraudulently suggesting a connection between Saddam Hussein and the anthrax scare.

But when the Secretary of State held up Iraq's support for the Palestinian Hamas organisation, which has an office in Baghdad, as proof of Saddam's support for "terror" — he of course made no mention of America's support for Israel and its occupation of Palestinian land — the whole theatre began to collapse.

There were Hamas offices in Beirut, Damascus and Tehran.

Was the 82nd Airborne supposed to grind on to Lebanon, Syria and Iran?

How many lies had been told in this auditorium?

How many British excuses for the Suez invasion, or Russian excuses — the same year — for the suppression of the Hungarian uprising?

One recalled, of course, this same room four decades earlier when General Powell's predecessor Adlai Stevenson showed photographs of the ships carrying Soviet missiles to Cuba.

Alas, Powell's pictures carried no such authority.

And Colin Powell was no Adlai Stevenson.

Pro-Israeli lobbyists

If Powell's address merited front-page treatment, the American media had never chosen to give the same attention to the men driving Bush to war, most of whom were former or still active pro-Israeli lobbyists.

For years they had advocated destroying the most powerful Arab nation.

Richard Perle, one of Bush's most influential advisers, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton and Donald Rumsfeld were all campaigning for the overthrow of Iraq long before George W Bush was elected US president.

And they weren't doing so for the benefit of Americans or Britons.

A 1996 report, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, called for war on Iraq.

It was written not for the US but for the incoming Israeli Likud prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and produced by a group headed by Perle.

The destruction of Iraq would, of course, protect Israel's monopoly of nuclear weapons — always supposing Saddam also possessed them — and allow it to defeat the Palestinians and impose whatever colonial settlement Sharon had in store for them.

Although Bush and Blair dared not discuss this aspect of the coming war — a conflict for Israel was not going to have Americans or Britons lining up at recruiting offices — Jewish-American leaders talked about the advantages of an Iraqi war with enthusiasm.

Indeed, those very courageous Jewish-American groups who opposed this madness were the first to point out how pro-Israeli organisations foresaw Iraq not only as a new source of oil but of water, too; why should canals not link the Tigris river to the parched Levant?

Topic had to be censored

No wonder, then, that any discussion of this topic had to be censored, as Professor Eliot Cohen of Johns Hopkins University tried to do in The Wall Street Journal the day after Powell's UN speech.

Cohen suggested that European nations' objections to the war might — yet again — be ascribed to " anti-Semitism of a type long thought dead in the West, a loathing that ascribes to Jews a malignant intent".

This nonsense was opposed by many Israeli intellectuals who, like Uri Avnery, argued that an Iraq war would leave Israel with even more Arab enemies.

The slur of "anti-Semitism" also lay behind Rumsfeld's insulting remarks about "old Europe".

He was talking about the "old" Germany of Nazism and the "old" France of collaboration.

But the France and Germany that opposed this war were the "new" Europe, the continent that refused, ever again, to slaughter the innocent.

It was Rumsfeld and Bush who represented the "old" America; not the " new" America of freedom, the America of F D Roosevelt.

Rumsfeld and Bush symbolised the old America that killed its native inhabitants and embarked on imperial adventures.

It was "old" America we were being asked to fight for — linked to a new form of colonialism — an America that first threatened the United Nations with irrelevancy and then did the same to Nato.

This was not the last chance for the UN, nor for Nato.

But it might well have been the last chance for America to be taken seriously by her friends as well as her enemies.

Israeli and US ambitions in the region were now entwined, almost synonymous.

This war, about oil and regional control, was being cheer-led by a president who was treacherously telling us that this was part of an eternal war against "terror".

The British and most Europeans didn't believe him.

It's not that Britons wouldn't fight for America.

It's not that Britons wouldn't fight for America.

They just didn't want to fight for Bush or his friends.

And if that included the prime minister, they didn't want to fight for Blair either.

Still less did they wish to embark on endless wars with a Texas governor-executioner who dodged the Vietnam draft and who, with his oil buddies, was now sending America's poor to destroy a Muslim nation that had nothing at all to do with the crimes against humanity of 11 September 2001.

Those who opposed the war were not cowards.

Brits rather like fighting; they've biffed Arabs, Afghans, Muslims, Nazis, Italian Fascists and Japanese imperialists for generations, Iraqis included.

But when the British are asked to go to war, patriotism is not enough.

Faced with the horror stories, Britons and many Americans were a lot braver than Blair and Bush.

They do not like, as Thomas More told Cromwell in A Man for All Seasons, tales to frighten children.

Perhaps Henry VIII's exasperation in that play better expresses the British view of Blair and Bush: "Do they take me for a simpleton?"

The British, like other Europeans, are an educated people.

Ironically, their opposition to this war might ultimately have made them feel more, not less, European.

Extracted from 'The Great War for Civilisation: the Conquest of the Middle East' by Robert Fisk, published by 4th Estate. Visit www.independent

© 2005 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.

Images inserted by

Common Dreams © 1997-2005

Ike Was Right About War Machine

(CBS) The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News correspondent Andy Rooney.

It was first broadcast October 2, 2005.

Andy Rooney

I’m not really clear how much a billion dollars is but the United States — our United States — is spending $5.6 billion a month fighting this war in Iraq that we never should have gotten into.

We still have 139,000 soldiers in Iraq today.

Almost 2,000 Americans have died there.   For what?

Now we have the hurricanes to pay for.   One way our government pays for a lot of things is by borrowing from countries like China.

Another way the government is planning to pay for the war and the hurricane damage is by cutting spending for things like Medicare prescriptions, highway construction, farm payments, AMTRAK, National Public Radio and loans to graduate students.   Do these sound like the things you’d like to cut back on to pay for Iraq?

I’ll tell you where we ought to start saving: on our bloated military establishment.

We’re paying for weapons we’ll never use.

No other Country spends the kind of money we spend on our military.   Last year Japan spent $42 billion.   Italy spent $28 billion, Russia spent only $19 billion.   The United States spent $455 billion.

We have 8,000 tanks for example.   One Abrams tank costs 150 times as much as a Ford station wagon.

We have more than 10,000 nuclear weapons — enough to destroy all of mankind.

We’re spending $200 million a year on bullets alone.   That’s a lot of target practice.   We have 1,155,000 enlisted men and women and 225,000 officers.   One officer to tell every five enlisted soldier what to do.   We have 40,000 colonels alone and 870 generals.

We had a great commander in WWII, Dwight Eisenhower.   He became President and on leaving the White House in 1961, he said this: “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.   The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. ..."

Well, Ike was right.   That’s just what’s happened.

February 7, 2006
Following Orders is No Excuse
Colin Powell's Career as a "Yes Man"
"A hoax on the American people, the international community, and the United Nations Security Council."
T hat is how Secretary of State General Colin Powell's February 2003 Iraq WMD speech to the UN was described last Friday (Feb. 3) on PBS by one who ought to know, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Secretary Powell.

In a February 2005 interview with Barbara Walters on ABC News "20/20" program, Powell himself declared his UN Iraq speech to be a blot on his reputation.

Since departing the Bush administration, both Wilkerson and Powell have made it completely clear that they had serious doubts about the "evidence" of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and malevolent Iraqi intentions that was loaded by the White House into Powell's UN speech, a speech designed by neoconservatives to initiate the invasion of Iraq.

Both Powell and Wilkerson knew that the "evidence" was greatly overstated if not an outright fabrication.

I resign

What if Secretary Powell had shared his doubts with the UN? What if instead of reading the Speech of Lies Powell had addressed the UN as follows:
"As a loyal soldier following orders I came here today intending to deliver the Bush administration's evidence against Saddam Hussein.

Now that I am standing here before you, I find myself caught in conflict between following orders and doing the right thing.

I should have resolved this conflict before I arrived.

I do so now by delivering the speech to you in its written form — here it is — but I refuse to deliver it out of my mouth.

I cannot participate in an act of deception against the United Nations Security Council, the international community, and the American people.

I have no confidence in the evidence in the speech.

Under the Nuremberg Standard established by the United States in the trials of Nazi war criminals, following orders is no excuse.

I will not participate in the war crime of naked aggression against another state.

I hereby resign as Secretary of State of the United States."
Why didn't Powell do the right thing?

Powell would have saved the world from a strategic blunder, the disastrous consequences of which are only beginning to unfold.

The maelstrom set in motion by the treachery of the neoconservatives, people who Powell has decribed as "crazy," has already cost tens of thousands of dead and wounded and hundreds of billions of dollars, destroyed America's reputation, and radicalized Middle East politics.

If Powell had refused three years ago to deliver the Speech of Lies, we would not now be watching an identical duplicity being rolled out against Iran.   The ultimate cost of the deception being practiced on the American people will dwarf the terrible price that has already been paid.

Why didn't Powell do the right thing?   His own reputation would have been forever secure as a man of integrity.   Why did he sacrifice his integrity to the crooked scheme of his commander in chief?

Alas, that is the way our generals are bred.

No officer can advance beyond the rank of Lt. Colonel

In the politicized US military, no officer can advance beyond the rank of Lt. Col. unless he toes the political line.

The game is played to advance in rank as high as possible, collect the pension, and be rewarded for compliant behavior with consultancies.

Real leadership means making waves, and that is not tolerated.

Rare instance of a man concerned with honor

Even in rare instances of a real man, concerned with the honor of his country and the safety of his troops, reaching the top, he is powerless to prevent disastrous mistakes of the ignorant civilian authorities.

Consider the fate of US Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki, who correctly informed Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld that the US invasion force was not sufficiently numerous to successfully occupy and subdue Iraq once the pitched battles were over.

Shinseki was fired for telling the truth — as was Secretary of the Army Thomas White, Lt. Gen. John Riggs, and four star general Kevin P. Byrnes.

Riggs was framed, demoted, and retired for saying that the US army was overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan and needed more troops.

Byrnes, who was in charge of Army training, was framed on adultery charges for objecting to bottom of the barrel recruitment policies that accepted criminals and immigrants with a lack of English proficiency.

Nothing like having an army that can't understand orders.

f every general and colonel had resigned

The only way a military can constrain their civilian masters from cooking up a war is to resign in mass.

If every general and colonel had resigned, there would have been no invasion of Iraq.

But this would require a military with leadership and a tradition of sticking together.

A military in which promotion is the highest virtue is powerless to prevent disastrous mistakes, such as the invasion of Iraq.

The Bush administration went to war on the basis of its fantasy that if merely a few US troops marched into Iraq, the regime would collapse and the population would welcome Americans as liberators with flowers and kisses.

It was to be a "cakewalk war."

No general officer in the US military believed that.

Yet few spoke out (Marine General Anthony Zinni was a notable exception).

Reason Colin Powell disgraced himself

The entire US military command could only produce a handful of men to warn of the looming catastrophe.

Who can forget the orchestrated media dismissals of "over-cautious generals" that greeted these few?

The reason Colin Powell disgraced himself is that he could not free himself of the conditioning that breeds success in the US military.

Who today will stand up to stop the potential armageddon of a US attack on Iran?

Paul Craig Roberts served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration.


       Afghanistan — Western Terror States: Canada, US, UK, France, Germany, Italy       
       Photos of Afghanistan people being killed and injured by NATO     


For archive purposes, this article is being stored on website.
The purpose is to advance understandings of environmental, political,
human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues.