There is an extensive, yet fragmentary and circumstantial body of evidence suggesting that Saddam pursued a strategy to maintain a capability to return to WMD after sanctions were lifted...
It's on the basis of this statement in the Iraq Survey Group's report that Tony Blair and Jack Straw are maintaining the line that
The threat from Saddam Hussein in terms of his intentions... [is] ...even starker than we have seen before. You go into a court of law with a case built on fragmentary and circumstantial evidence, no matter how extensive, and you're going to get laughed out of court.
All the evidence that has come out of Iraq after the invasion has pointed to the fact that both the people of the US and the UK were lied to (or at least intentionally not told the whole truth) about the real threat posed by Saddam Hussein's regime. It points to the willingness of the UK and US Governments to flout International Law and the UN to pursue their own agenda of regime change. It strikes at the very credibility and integrity of our governments.
I can't understand people who simply say "Oh, we can't change the past, we've got to make the best of it" because this simply isn't about Iraq - this makes a mockery of democracy - if the oldest Western democracies, the very paragons and champions of freedom and justice in the world, cannot act within International Law, why should we expect democracy imposed on Iraq (or anywhere else) to succeed or work to further Western interests?
No-one will deny that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator, but that alone cannot justify the war, and all the other "evidence" we were presented to justify the case with has proved to be false or unconfirmed at best. There were no WMD, there were no active weapons programmes, and with sanctions in place, no resources to re-open them either. There has never been any substantive or definitively proven connection between Iraq or Hussein's regime to the al-Qaida network - which even now Dick Cheney claims is there (despite being contradicted by trusty old Rummy) - and whilst it's true that Hussein supported Hamas, the same could be said of a lot of other Arabian governments. Hussein wasn't so much a supporter of terrorism (International or not) - he was simply an enemy of Israel (again, like much of the Middle East, because of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands).
What the ISG's report shows is that Saddam Hussein had been successfully contained by UN sactions and weapons inspections, and that he did not have the resources to be a threat, certainly not in the short term, as was claimed by the UK and US. Had Hans Blix been given more time to complete the inspection process, it would have proved that the invasion was not necessary, and the lives of thousands of Iraqi civilians and 1,000 US troops need not have been lost.
Had we walked away from Iraq and left Iraq to Saddam, Saddam would have indeed built up his capabilities, built up his strength and posed an even greater threat.
Jack Straw again. How's that for a disingenuous statement? The key argument I keep hearing from "hawks" who supported the war is "What would you have done with Hussein?" The truth is that the international community wouldn't have walked away from Iraq. A dozen years of sanctions and inspections after the 1991 Gulf War ensured that Hussein couldn't rebuild his weapons. Are we supposed to believe that they simply would have stopped? It was perfectly possible to keep Saddam Hussein in place and prevent him from developing WMD, and if his regime was truly so objectionable, invasion is not the only method of regime change. The US government has supported many other coups to depose (or indeed, install) dictators in the past. Had the US government given adequate support to the Shia uprising after the first Gulf War (after inciting it in the first place), I wouldn't be typing this now. The facts are that it suited the US government's purposes to keep Saddam in place, until they could put together a suitable plan to implement the Republican New American Century agenda, and let the Bush family's friends line their cash with Iraqi oil revenue. Instead of helping the Iraqi people rise up to depose a hated dictator and choose their own path, the US instead chose to flout International Law and install a government of hand-picked and approved exiles, who are widely seen as a Puppet Government in the Arab world. Add to this the "free and fair" elections in January that will most likely take place in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, if they take place at all (which is by no means a foregone conclusion). I don't believe that anyone can honestly say that the world is a safer place after the invasion of Iraq, and anyone who's taken a trip to the petrol pumps lately will know of the calamatous effect the war and the subsequent regional instability in the Middle East has had on oil prices. Of course, it's a COMPLETE COINCIDENCE that the Bush family has financial interests in the oil industry...
The whole thing really infuriates me, firstly that its happened, and secondly that the public seems so desensitised and apathetic that we're letting the bastards get away with it. I'd say more, but I don't want the Thought Police bashing down my door in the middle of the night...