In Sri Lanka they say, "although the masks are fitted on back stage, the dance has to be performed in the open"
The failure of the long and desperate Anglo-American search for the alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, have brought "the backstage fitting of the mask" to an end. Now the time has come for the coalition to "perform the dance in open."
As far as the question of Iraqi WMDs is concerned US President George W Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Prime Minister of Australia John Howard still continue to act brave at least in front of the media. The true nature of this act is now being revealed not only from outside but within their own ranks as well.
Mr. Bush keeps on accusing the media of being ignorant. He tries to play down the ever-growing mass scepticism about the WMDs, by referring to the joint CIA and Defence Intelligence Agency Report released last week. According to this report, two trucks have been found in Northern Iraq last month, which, the US believes, are labs used to develop biological weapons. These two trucks are considered by the US as the strongest evidence in their hunt for WMDs. However no biological agents, pathogens were found on the trucks. The experts point out that these trucks do not resemble the ones that UN Secretary of State, Colin Powell described in his speech at the UN Security Council. Contrary to what Collin Powell described, these two trucks are open sided and would have therefore left at least a faint but easily detectable trace of the biological agents. According to a former UN inspector, the two trucks do not seem to be an effective way to produce Anthrax either.
Mr. Blair keeps on either ignoring the questions by the media or uttering his mantra absolutely no doubt at all about the existence of WMDs. Tony Blair's optimism is not shared either by the US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz or his boss the US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Incidentally there is another Sri Lankan saying - the mouth may lie, but the tongue won't Confirming the wisdom of this saying, Donald Rumsfeld conceded last week, that the WMDs might never be found in Iraq. Mr. Wolfowitz went further to say "For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on". Messrs. Wolfowitz's and Rumsfeld’s mouths may have lied but their tongues haven't - at least this time.
So what about those US intelligence sources placed very close to the Iraqi regime. ? Forget about Saddam, who seems to be still mobile, somewhere, but what about the stationary WMDs, haven't the US intelligence got any clue at all? Yes, the frustration and embarrassment is being felt right in the guts at Washington and Downing Street.
Having failed to find a slightest trace of WMDs, the Anglo-American, Australian team is now in a competition among themselves to find words to justify the unjustifiable. Mr. Rumsfeld has particularly out-performed the others in this competition by saying “it is possible that they [Iraq] decided that they would destroy them prior to a conflict and I don't know the answer. Answers of course, he had many, but that was during the events leading up to the war, but now, the answers seem very hard to come by.
In March, arguing his case for war in the House of Commons, Tony Blair said: "It is palpably absurd to claim that Saddam had destroyed weapons including 10,000 litres of Anthrax, up to 6,500 chemical munitions, at least 80 tons of Mustard Gas, Sarin, Tolulinum toxin and a host of other biological weapons". According to Tony Blair, Donald Rumsfeld must have been palpably absurd to say what he said about the possible destruction of the WMDs.
In the meantime, the former British foreign secretary, Robin Cook said that the Prime Minister, Tony Blair has mislead the parliament and the public by claiming Saddam could deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes. Referring to Mr. Blair’s deception, Mr. Cook said on the 28th May "we were told Saddam had weapons ready for use within 45 minutes. It’s now 45 days since the war has finished and we have still not found anything. It is plain he did not have that capacity to threaten us, possibly did not have the capacity to threaten even his neighbours, and that is profoundly important. We were after all, told that those who opposed the resolution that would provide the basis for military action were in the wrong."
The former Labour Defence Minister Peter Kilfole, has organised a motion to report Mr. Blair to the Speaker of the Commons for misleading the Parliament. Mr. Kilfole's Commons motion, which has been signed by 72 MPs, is calling Mr. Blair to provide proof to back up his claims about Saddam’s arsenal. "This will not go away. The Government ought to publish whatever evidence they have for the claims they made," Mr. Kilfole said.
Meanwhile in the US, a former senator Sam Nunn urged Congress to investigate whether the case for war in Iraq was based on purposely misleading and fabricated intelligence. The CIA and other American Intelligent Agencies have promised to look into internal matters to verify quality of the intelligent material they supplied the administration on WMDs and other matters in Iraq.
Around the world, there have been many voices, demanding explanation why no WMDs have been found in Iraq. With every passing day, the chances of uncovering a single example of WMDs become more and more remote, but the embarrassment surrounding the failure of the intelligent sources becomes ever more obvious.
The critics of the Downing Street policy of war have come out strongly against Tony Blair’s subservient and ingratiating role towards US , in the campaign for war against Iraq.
Alan Simpson, Labour MP for Nottingham South said "the MPS supported the war based on a lie. If it's right Iraq destroyed the weapons prior to the war, then it means Iraq complied with the United Nations resolution 1441."
All the evidence that has been gathered so far indicates that the coalition has put the lives of their armed forces at risk, based on false, doctored intelligence information. The clear consequence of waging this unwarranted illegal and immoral war is, increased suffering and instability in the region, expansion of danger beyond the lives of armed men and women, to engulf the lives of many innocent civilians all over the world. Paul Keetch, the Liberal Democrat spokesman for defence related matters said: "No weapons means no threat. Without WMD, the case for war falls apart. It would seem either the Intelligence was wrong and we should not rely on it, or, the politicians overplayed the threat. Even British troops who I met in Iraq recently were sceptical about the threat posed by WMD. Their lives put at risk in order to eliminate this threat - we owe it to our troops to find out if that threat was real."
Tony Blair is being strongly accused of deceptive conduct in relation to Britain's participation in the war in Iraq. Clare Short, who resigned last month from her post as the International Development Secretary of Tony Blair's government, accused Mr. Blair of deceiving the Cabinet, not once but three times. She claimed that Prime Minister's three counts of deception constitutes: misleading the country and the world about the immediate danger posed by Saddam Hussein, concealing the true position of Jacques Chirac, the French President and secretly agreeing with George Bush, the US President last September to wage war against Iraq.
The former foreign secretary, Robin Cook in his recent scathing attack on Mr. Blair said it was clear that the Government had made a monumental blunder over Iraq. "In the real world", he said "governments make mistakes but what they must never do is to try to deny and cover up these mistakes. The Government should admit it was wrong and it needs to set up a thorough independent inquiry into how it got it wrong, so it never happens again and we never again send British troops into action on the basis of a mistake."
Revealing further the deceptive nature of Mr. Blair’s subservient support to Mr. Bush, Ms. Clare Short said: "Because all this was done secretly, the preparations for post-conflict were poor and we have got the chaos and suffering that we have got now" The reports coming from Iraq, confirm what Clare Short mentioned in her statement - the situation in Baghdad and other cities, is chaotic. The suffering of Iraqi people has not eased and overall the country is still far from stable.
As the war in Iraq progressed and the controversy surrounding Saddam's WMDs became deeper, those who rushed the case for war started to contradict themselves by trying to play down the obvious failure. This contradiction is clearly demonstrated by Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary on 23rd April, when he went on the BBC Radio 4's Today program - he said: "Saddam's weapons of mass destruction remained hidden as they are hidden to this day. He did not have the time to recover the weapons from those hiding places to reassemble the missiles and then to fire them." This means, even if Saddam had the weapons, they were not and could not be fired within 45 minutes as the PM Tony Blair claimed. This clearly contradicts what Tony Blair told the House of commons on the 24th September. Mr Blair said then "his [Saddam's] weapons of mass destruction regime is active, detailed and growing .. [intelligence] concludes that 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".
The main leaders of the warnik camp - George Bush and Tony Blair (John Howard to a lesser extent) are becoming under growing pressure to provide answers to many questions related to the main cause for waging the war in Iraq. The critics will no longer accept wait and see as an answer. Although Iraq has been under the rule of Anglo-American coalition since 20th April, Iraqis, as well as American and British soldiers continue to die, in small numbers but almost everyday.
The only WMDs that are visible in Iraq - are not the ones made by Iraq, but the ones made and dropped by the coalition, in hundreds. As the Labour MP for Great Grimsby in UK, Austin Mitchell recently said: "Now that the search for WMDs produced by Iraq is on failing, nothing much is being done about the WMDs used by our side, which are basically cluster bombs." Despite the international protest against the use of cluster bombs, Adam Ingram, the armed forces minister of UK, did recently admit cluster bombs were used in specific circumstances where there is a threat to our troops.
Cluster bombs, specially the US made CBU-87 and UK made BL755 have a notorious track record for high rate of failure. The unexploded Ordnance, known as UXOs or the cluster bombs that failed to explode on impact, remain on the ground, continuing to kill and maim many innocent children, women and others, even long after the war. Britain had 200 experts working in Iraq, on the task of destroying many hundreds of thousands of UXOs. In the meantime, until the occupying forces worked out their priorities and got down to the task of destroying the UXOs, many hundreds of innocent children and women had already paid the price with their lives and limbs.
Mr Mitchell, UK Labour MP, went on to say: "Unless we clean up our mess then our position is, frankly, dishonest and contemptible. We should not use these weapons."
Rightly so, "Dishonest and Contemptible" has been the Anglo-American claim of WMDs and the campaign for war in Iraq. There has been no sign to indicate this is going to change in the foreseeable future.
Except for the desperate, angry and frustrated people, no one can see any "cheering and happy" faces in Iraq. Even some faces of the occupying forces wear a reflection of the frustratingly grim and painful reality. Nobody seems to have found any Weapons of Mass Destruction, made in Iraq, but apart from the unexploded US and British made cluster bombs in Iraq, the world was already “bombarded" with "barrages" of Weapons of Mass Deception, skilfully fabricated in US and Britain
Dr. Mithra Fernando
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