(Actually, yesterday’s, but blogging had to take a back seat to other matters) Saddam’s weapons of mass corruption, on the Iraq Survey Group
If the report is embarrassing for the British and US governments, for those of Russia, France and China, it is damning. Saddam used cash stolen from the UN’s flawed oil-for-food programme to induce these permanent members of the Security Council to thwart their Anglo-American allies. The motives of those states that went to war emerge as far less tainted than those that opposed it. If the British and Americans were duped by Saddam, the Russians and French had their palms greased by him.
Even so, the absence of WMD will reinforce doubts about the wisdom of the war on both sides of the Atlantic. Mr Bush was already on the defensive after Donald Rumsfeld’s admission that there was no “strong, hard evidence” of Iraq’s links with al-Qa’eda, and Paul Bremer’s acknowledgement that his task as post-war governor of Iraq was vitiated by too few troops.
Was it all a mistake? On the contrary: the real case for war, consistently argued in these pages, depended neither on WMD nor on the al-Qa’eda connection. Saddam had to be deposed for both strategic and moral reasons, which have broadly been vindicated. Though the war on terror is far from over, the threat from terrorist states has diminished. If free Iraq can stay the course – by holding elections, by putting Saddam on trial, and by defeating the insurgency – it will have a profound impact on the other despots of the Middle East and beyond.
If anything, the report reinforces the case for regime change, by demonstrating the malign influence that Saddam’s Iraq exerted over the entire international system. His capacity for genocide had indeed decayed, but by 2003 he was no longer the pariah he had been in 1991.
Or, to use Arthur’s words, Which part of “wanted to recreate Iraq’s WMD capability” don’t you understand?