Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Wednesday, June 18, 2003  

George Bush should fear this man. Every great scandal unfolds like a string of falling dominoes--leading back to what seemed at first like an unlikely source. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the first domino. His name is Robin Cook, and we lefty bloggers all admired him when he quit Prime Minister Blair's cabinet back in March because of the rush to war. Back then, he said some pretty prescient things in his resignation speech. Listen:

Our difficulty in getting support this time is that neither the international community nor the British public is persuaded that there is an urgent and compelling reason for this military action in Iraq. . . .

Ironically, it is only because Iraq's military forces are so weak that we can even contemplate its invasion. Some advocates of conflict claim that Saddam's forces are so weak, so demoralised and so badly equipped that the war will be over in a few days.

We cannot base our military strategy on the assumption that Saddam is weak and at the same time justify pre-emptive action on the claim that he is a threat.

Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly understood sense of the term - namely a credible device capable of being delivered against a strategic city target.

It probably still has biological toxins and battlefield chemical munitions, but it has had them since the 1980s when US companies sold Saddam anthrax agents and the then British Government approved chemical and munitions factories.

Why is it now so urgent that we should take military action to disarm a military capacity that has been there for 20 years, and which we helped to create?

. . . On Iraq, I believe that the prevailing mood of the British people is sound. They do not doubt that Saddam is a brutal dictator, but they are not persuaded that he is a clear and present danger to Britain.

They want inspections to be given a chance, and they suspect that they are being pushed too quickly into conflict by a US Administration with an agenda of its own.

Above all, they are uneasy at Britain going out on a limb on a military adventure without a broader international coalition and against the hostility of many of our traditional allies.

It was, therefore, uncomfortable when he stood in front of the same body yesterday and said in essence 'I told you so.' (Or in his words: "I fear the fundamental problem is that instead of using intelligence as evidence on which to base a decision about policy, we used intelligence as the basis on which to justify a policy on which we had already settled.")

Why should the President care? Because while he had the Democrats yipping agreement for the war, the probe into Blair's intelligence will ultimately be a probe of the President. Blair is already in hot water over his dodgy dossier, and presumably, it's only going to get worse. I'll go ahead and make a prediction here and now and say that if the heat gets too intense, Blair will blame his decision on US intelligence. Blair has been defending himself well in front of the House of Commons, but a man with Cook's credibility on the issue is harder to quiet.

If the intelligence was as weak (or absent) as I imagine it was, Cook could be the loose thread that unravels two leaders. Or for metaphoric consistency, the first domino.

posted by Jeff | 1:49 PM |
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