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February 10, 2004


David Gillies

L'affaire Ritter is a bit of a head-scratcher, isn't it? I normally reject conspiracy theories out of hand, but his complete volte face really has me wondering. I can't really articulate this further, lest I be accused of wandering on the wilder shores of fantasy...


Yes - Ritter; why the sudden switch? A year or so ago, there was the suggestion that his being tried for inappropriate sexual relations with a minor had something to do with it, but after trial these had been entirely exploded, leaving the question open once more. The idea I fall back on is that, seeing how utterly unrewarding the UN inspector role is, Scott decided that he should join the Pilger/Choam/Moore gravy train and profit out of the war through writing, and that meant writing anti-war material. But it's a weak idea, weak in the extreme. Does anyone have anything more solid?

Cara Remal

So glad you're back, Oliver!

Kieron McNulty

Hello Everyone

I really don't want to break up the 'libertarian' love fest that these pages seem to be but Oliver Kamm's pathetic and meretricious musings on why the war is right deserve a good kicking.

I read the balderdash above with incredulity. His arguments seem to be is that the west is right. Thats it. Nothing else, for all the verbiage. 'Neccesitated by the wests security needs' indeed. A tinpot dictator who we supported up to the hilt until 1991 becomes the worlds greatest threat? because a US inspector found some RIcin related activities? After 10 years of sanctions that killed more people than all the WMDs in human history. He posed no threat to the region at all. It is absolutely laughable.
There are of course real threats in the world - nuclear proliferation via Pakistan, the Islamist networks that seem to emanate from two US client states Egypt and Saudi Arabia and more importantly the US and its reliable mercenary the UKs flagrant disregard for international law and world opinion presaging God only knows what dangers.

Also in his thinkpiece - if I can dignify it with calling in that - there are the slurs and innuendoes against the weapons inspectors. the inspectors who had some knowledge of these things. The 'hapless' Hans Blix and the 'discredited' Scott Ritter. What they say is obviously more coherent and intelligent than the specious and transparent lies of the propaganda campaign designed to build popular support to invade another country, the pathetic 'sexed up dossier' and all the rest of it.

And as for your comments on George Bush - that idiot cypher for American power interests, well I wont get into that because I want to control my blood pressure. :-)

I thought liberals wanted a world based on law? Or does Oliver think the west has some special dispensation to invade countries and use its absolutely overwhelming firepower and military might and Weapons of Mass Destruction wherever it sees fit? I think we should be told

love kieron


"After 10 years of sanctions that killed more people than all the WMDs in human history"

And we're supposed to take YOU seriously Kiernon?

Hugh Hanson

"I look around and observe that many of my fellow Americans (world citizens) don't seem to be living on Sept. 12, the way I am. And if they don't feel in their bones the presence of war, I don't know what argument I can use to persuade them."

No argument, it would seem, will persuade the likes of Kiernon McNulty. There is an old saying that you can wake a sleeping man, but not one who is pretending to be asleep.
I guess Kiernon has a very comfortable bed.

Charles Homme


What color is the sky in your world?
Do the half a million bodies dug up in the Iraqi desert mean nothing?
Does the fact two "no fly" zones had to be maintained for twelve years, at enormous cost, so another half million wouldn't end up in the same sandy grave blow right by you?
Or that Saddam funded and gave refuge to terrorists?
Or that he tried to assassinate a US president?
Or that he invaded two of his neighbors and caused over a million deaths?
Or that he lobed SCUDs at Israel?
Or that he had used chemical weapons against his enemies?
Or that he refused to abide by numerous chapter 7 UN resolutions?
Or that he repeatedly caused major environmental damage in vindictive rages?
Or that he was continuing a WMD program (though it wasn't as big as estimated)?
Or that 2/3s of Iraq is very grateful for their liberation?
Did you miss what happens when a country doesn’t prepare for the worst? (clue: airplanes were used as weapon of mass destruction)
So go ahead and blame the US for all that's wrong,
minimize Saddam's evil, and trust the investigative capabilities of a man that missed an advanced nuclear program but don't expect others to be as delusional.


Keiron, I would have thought that if you believe that sanctions killed more people than all the WMDs in history, the only morally defensible position would be to invade Iraq and remove Saddam so that the sanctions regime could come to an end.

Oliver, you make some interesting points. On 4th Feb, The Guardian carried a piece by Kenneth Pollack headlined 'How did we get it so wrong' which argued that western intelligence agencies over estimated Iraq's WMD capacity becuase they had underestimated it in the past. Pollack argued that because the intelligence was wrong, we were wrong to invade.

When I read this I drew a completely different inferrence from that of the Pollack and the Guardian sub editor who wrote the headline. Given that we had no way of knowing what Saddam was doing, invasion was the only responsible course of action.

I say this as someone who opposed the war before it began. In the light of evidence about Saddam's attitudes to WMD that has come out since the invasion, and the change in attitude towards WMD of the Governments of Libya, Iran and Pakistan I have changed my mind.

John Turnbull


I respect (though disagree) with your stance on the war. What never fails to puzzle me, though, is your evident admiration for George W. Bush. If the New York Times has to put words in the President's mouth in order for him to make any sense, then surely we're in trouble. Iraq aside, what on Earth is there for a self-described liberal such as yourself to admire about the current US administration and its leader?

Andrew Ian Dodge

Oliver I agree with you on your assesment of Gore's running mate. I rather admire Lieberman, despite have reservations about his banning instincts.

Kieron is clearly a troll who is best ignored. His comments are cookie-cutter from the Indymedia anti-war brigade. He is one of those that always plays down deaths caused by US/UK's enemies and always over-cooks allied-caused casualties.

I recomend that Kieron visit Iraqi Kurdistan and share his ideas with them.

Eric Deamer

This was an absolutely brilliant piece, far better than most opinion pieces in most major publications. Kieron is nothing more than troll who should be ignored. I'm a little sheepish about commenting, because of the high level of erudition among the commenters here, Kieron excepted, and because the comments seem to be informed by an understanding of English politics and political labels which I of course lack as an American. I can't, however, resist trying to take some stab at responding to John Turnbull's question about what a liberal could possibly admire about George W. Bush.

The reference to David Brooks having to put words in Bush's mouth seemed to be an allusion to the fact that he is inarticulate, something which even his staunchest supporters here admit. However, I'd hasten to add that virtually all American politicians are poor extemporaneous speakers, especially presidents. Clinton and Reagan were great anomalies. Perhaps it has to do with not having a parliamentary system, in which the leader has to debate his opposition frequently, but very few American Presidents are eloquent. The implication of referencing Bush's poor speaking ability, I suppose, is that this is somehow correlated to his intelligence level. Of course, this is predicated on having a good definition of what "intelligence" is, knowing that it is directly related to verbal ability, and assuming that intelligence, thus arbitrarily defined, is an important quality in a president. These are all propositions which could be debated ad nauseum. I will only say that a colleague of his at Harvard Business School (again, Harvard Business School) wrote an essay describing in detail Bush's character and strengths and weaknesss as a student during that time. One finds that though he does not possess qualities that are praised among those with a humanities background, verbal acuity, intellectual curiosity etc., he does have many strengths which those sorts (myself among them) often lack.

As for what a "liberal" would like about him. Well, I've never called myself one, and I'm sure the definition of this term is completely different in English politics, so this could be way off base, but if the implication is that he is some sort of right-wing extremist, that's certainly not true from any fair reading of the facts. At least that is, if you're working from American understanding of such terminology. He has actually increased spending on social programs at a far greater rate than his predecessor. He has started a major initiative to combat African AIDS. He has increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. He has created an enormous new entitlement to be included within Medicare. He has, indeed, done all this while cutting taxes, which is why the left (as well as the right) here has now started attacking him for running up defifcits, which traditionally has been a concern of the right here. So, it's all a bit confused here with regard to the liberal/conserative thing, which barely makes sense in American politics anyway.

I realize that even having all of these new government programs and domestic spending keeps us far from having a UK-type welfare state, but that will not happen with any realistic US president, be they "conservative" or "liberal".

Chris Lightfoot

The juxtaposition of "Iraq had a programme for making ricin" and "ricin was found by police in Wood Green" might inadvertently suggest to some readers that the manufacture of ricin is a complicated business in which a terrorist would need the assistance of a state sponsor. In fact, ricin is pretty easy to make from readily-available materials, as described in this Wikipedia article. Before the current wave of terrorism, it was manufactured by at least one "militia" group in the United States, as described in this article from the Anti-Defamation League. (Incidentally, ricin was also used in the 1978 murder of Goergi Markov by Bulgarian spies.)

Oliver Kamm

Thanks - it would indeed be inadvertent. I had meant to imply only that ricin was a potential choice of terrorists, not that they necessarily required a sovereign intermediary.

Kieron McNulty

Hello again

It was really an eye opener to see the fantastic level of rational debate here ' Kieron is a troll who is best ignored" from 2 people!
Firstly my point on sanctions causing more deaths than all WMDs in human history is quite correct.

WMDs are defined in the US legal code as

Weapons that are intended or have the capability to cause death or serious injury to a significant number of people through the release dissemination or impact of
-toxic or poisonous chemicals or their precursors
- disease organisms
-radiation or radioactivity

The main WMD episodes in history

Gas attacks in WW1
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Iraqs attack on the Kurds and on Iranian troops (when he was the wests best friend and we were helping up to the hilt)

The poor victims of these are less than the conservative estimates of 1/2 million children (and god alone knows how many adults) who died because of the sanctions - Unicef and WHO figures. You can check these figures out if you care to. But I guess you won't. It was caused by a lack of potable water ( breakdown in the sanitation systems ) ,lack of medicines and malnutrition and undernutrition.

And I cannot believe the lesson in morality from Andy.
' The only morally defensible postion would be to end the sanctions by invading' No it wouldnt. How about just ending the sanctions, or at least the parts that don't kill vast numbers of innocents?

Does in anyone remember the two UN guys who resigned in disgust at what was happening. Halliday and Von Sponeck? I suppose you lot are going to slander them as well.

WMDs have nothing to with why the US and UK invaded. It was clearly a pretext. It wasn't about love of democracy or deep concern for the Iraqi people. It was about Oil and control over it and to show who is the biggest bully in the world. This seems to be understood by the rest of the world pretty well.

Can I just add the songs of praise to George W Bush are quite funny really from supposedly educated people. Some geezer he was at college with wrote an essay about him saying he was alright? He might be intelligent, but it depends on what you mean by intelligence? Ill take the evidence of my senses thanks.

And even funnier was Eric's holding up of Reagan as an example of a good extemporaneous speaker ! Were you awake during the 1980's Eric?

Anyway Thanks for listening


"It was caused "...by a lack of potable water ( breakdown in the sanitation systems ) ,lack of medicines and malnutrition and undernutrition."

NO, "it" was caused by Saddam Hussein, who demonstrated no concern for the welfare and lives of the Iraqis.

"...You can check these figures out if you care to. But I guess you won't."

On the same subject, one might critically ask who supplied Unicef and WHO with their data from within the locked down police state? One might ask, but I guess you won't.

nitro nora

kiernan, you say the sanctions caused the suffering & deaths, thru lack of potable water, disease, etc. But what was the purpose of Saddam's dozens of palaces? He spent an awful lot of money on those, you know. Surely you know this? We use them for barracks now, so we KNOW he built them. Where'd the money for all that come from? Don't you think he could have fed & watered lots of people? Could have bought medicine for little kids with that money, no? You damage your credibility by ignoring known facts.

John in Tokyo

We are just now seeing the beginnings of an investigation into the abuses of the Oil for Food Program. You've heard of the Oil for Food Program haven't you? You forgot to mention it in your diatribe against the UN-led sanctions. Repeat after me: UN-led. Care to speculate on what lovely details will emerge regarding what happened to the money generated by the program that ostensibly allowed Saddam to sell oil in order to provide vital food and healthcare resources.

Although your casualty figures are based on Baathist propaganda (see below), there was certainly a humanitarian catastrophy. It's amazing to me how you, Pilger et al place all of the blame for it on the U.S.'s shoulders, implicitly or explicitly excusing all of Saddam's intransigence.

With all the revelations that have been pouring out of Iraq in the past year, it's hard to keep track of all the small articles and details regarding the every day cruelty and wickedness of Saddam's regime. Perhaps you missed this one back in May. Read this story about how your willingness to swallow Baathist propaganda only encouraged Baathist iniquity and provided incentives for Saddam to continue exacerbating the humanitarian crisis to wield as a weapon against his enemies, the Clinton administration.

Charles Homme


If Saddam were a product of the US wouldn't they be morally obligated to remove his awful regime?
And if oil were the end game it seems to have been a bad bet.

Jordan Keiser

Somebody help me out: I'm reading this--more than edified by Mr. Kamm's reasoning, by the way--and now I'm frantic: who in the world is Scott Ritter? Is this the scraggly UN apologist I saw on McNeill someodd months ago decrying the War? A slight, Hunnish brogue? If it's the guy I'm thinking of, I remember being scared by him a little. Then thinking, "Oh yeah, he really believes this stuff." Sad. Investing your conscience WITH your career in the U.N. MANDATE, if it doesn't suggest you're unhinged to begin with, is probably more than enough to strain your sanity long-term.


Kieron: "It was about Oil and control over it and to show who is the biggest bully in the world."

And your evidence for this would be?...

Oh wait, excuse me. I just got a check from Iraq for their oil sales. Let me deposit that real quick...ok done. I don't know about the rest of you but I'm making out HUGE over this invasion thing as I'm sure all Americans are.

Ahh good someone brought me my oil martini. Mmmmmm, just the way I like it; crude and undomestic.
/Sarcasm off

John P.

There is another reason we went war with Iraq, which I have not seen discussed. Al Queda recruited Islamists from Saudi Arabia because of our support for their government and because we had American troops, "infidel" troops stationed on the "holy" Saudi Arabian soil. Those troops were not there prior to the 1991, but never left afterwards because only a ceasefire was signed by Saddam. A full peace and withdrawal of our troops required that Saddam documented the destruction of the WMDs he had prior to the war and any capability to replace them. In effect he was required to adopt the military stance of the Japanese with a military for defensive use only. Saddam did not do this because it would have left him vulnerable to a revolt or coup. We needed to remove our troops to reduce the irritant they caused on Saudi Arabian politics, but those troops were there to prevent Saddam from inflicting further casualties on the Kurds and Shia in Iraq, as well as providing a quick reaction force that could protect the UN inspectors. If we removed those troops while Saddam had not openly promoted peace and reconciliation with his people and the neighboring countries, Al Queda could have increased their volunteers by suggesting they had chased us out. The only way for us to get our troops out of Saudi Arabia was to eliminate the need to have them there in the first place. Although our action in Iraq may increase Al Queda volunteers in the short term, if we can stabilize Iraq and remove our troops, we will have addressed one of Al Queda's objectives without conceding our strategic interests or permanently strengthening Al Queda.

capt joe

Sorry Guys,

Kieron, come on now, you know you aren't allowed without your medication.


Sorry guys, he isn't usually like this. properly meddicated he is quite sociable.


Kieron, come on now, this will need a trip to that special room again.

couldn't resist ;)


Kieron is a typical liberal in that he/she has to bolster his arguments with attempts to put down anyone who doesn't agree with him/her.

I ran into this sort at the University of Colorado back in the 80's. The typical liberals way of discussion was to shout down anyone who thought differently. (As seen in the communist led anti-war protests in San Francisco- yes they were organized by communists)
Unable to refute with facts, volume and ad hominem attacks became their only recourse.

The world is much better off without Saddam in power and all dictators should be quaking in their shoes since America has a president with backbone and force behind his soft voice.

doyne dawson

Kieron also repeats the line that Saddam was 'the West's best friend and we were helping him to the hilt.' It's an article of faith among the far left that Saddam used to be our ally, that the US 'armed' him, and sometimes that the US 'created' him. Actually he was a loyal Soviet client and remained one until the Cold War ended. And he got his arms from Europe, not America.

Brown Line

It is true that Bush is not a good extemperaneous speaker (JFK was the only president in my lifetime who was), but he has given some magnificent speeches that describe his political vision clearly. I refer you to the Three Pillars speech, given at Whitehall last November:


and his speech on Churchill, given at the Library of Congress a week ago:


In the Whitehall speech, Bush said:

"We must shake off decades of failed policy in the Middle East. Your nation [Britain] and mine, in the past, have been willing to make a bargain, to tolerate oppression for the sake of stability. Longstanding ties often led us to overlook the faults of local elites. Yet this bargain did not bring stability or make us safe. It merely bought time, while problems festered and ideologies of violence took hold."

This observation is a damning indictment of the Middle East policy of nearly every administration since World War II. I'm surprised it hasn't received more notice; I find it as astonishing as it is hopeful.

So no, Bush isn't a great off-the-cuff speaker. But he doesn't need David Brooks to cobble up some words for him; he can do quite well on his own.

Regards ...

Matthew Crandall

We know Saddam sold billions and billions of dollars of oil through the UN administered Oil-For-Food program. That's right, "UN Administered." The US's only roll was to enforce the no-fly zone. Blaming the US for any resulting civilian crisis during those years is a bit disingenuous, to say the least.

Kind of reminds me of that old Sam Kinison routine about starving children in Africa:

"Hey, surely the camera crew could have given this kid a sandwhich?"

"Don't feed him yet! This doesn't work unless he looks hungry!"


I just want to know where I can get some of that acid Kieron is dropping. It must be brain scrambling stuff.


Ritter was bought.


If WMD include

"Weapons that are intended or have the capability to cause death or serious injury to a significant number of people through the release dissemination or impact of
-toxic or poisonous chemicals or their precursors"

I'm going to have to call for a recount on the Death by WMD vs Death by Sanctions.

The victims of Nazi concentration camps, specifically the ones killed by poisonous chemicals, need to be included.

That alone should tip the scales. And should serve to remind us. The poisons used so long ago in Germany were availible in many countries, but it was the Nazis that choose to methodically used them on people.

WMD are not the problem.

WMD in the hands of terrible people is the problem.



Read this:
Immediate withdrawal from Vietnam, Kerry said,... During that interval he would allow only "self-defense return of fire." "I don't think we should leave support troops there..." He does not feel there would be a massive slaughter of American, sympathizers once the United States pulled out. (Tell that to the boatpeople."

Kerry said that the United Nations should have control over most of our foreign military operations. "I'm an internationalist. I'd like to see our troops dispersed through the world only at the directive of the United Nations."

On other issues, Kerry wants "to almost eliminate CIA activity... He also favors a negative income tax and keeping unemployment at a very low level, "even if it means selective economic controls."


I recently had my first personal run-in with a George Bush is an Idiot person (OK, I don't get out much). It left me astonished that they're not just crazies on the Internet but real people.

We supported Sadaam only weakly during the Iran/Iraq war. We did not "create" him nor did we significantly arm him.

Who is the "we" in the "we" did it for oil? I've always wondered about that. It's certainly not the US as a whole. Oil prices are very high. And what exactly do we "get"? The US is paying market value for our imported oil. If we don't get it from Iraq, we'll buy it elsewhere. If we do get it from Iraq, we'll be BUYING it. I guess I'm just a stupid conservative who doesn't understand.

He might be intelligent, but it depends on what you mean by intelligence? Ill take the evidence of my senses thanks.
Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. That is so un-PC. Mr. Bush may be differently-abled, but that is no reason to make fun of him. We must show compassion and caring toward him. If there were one standard for intelligence I would expect the very liberal teacher's union to jump on it for measuring the progress of their students. Oh, but wait, every child is special and shouldn't be measured by such cold-hearted criteria. You can't have it both ways, Kieron. (btw: I consider the ability to preview and write a properly punctuated sentence to be a measure of intelligence. You missed an apostrophe and a comma. Your writing skills are appalling. You must be non-intelligent.)


Here is the arms information I was looking for. The US supplied virtually nothing.


Kieron, you are forgetting about Bush's Iraq policy in the eight months between taking office and 9/11. Bush seemed only to continue the Clinton policy of containment of Saddam. However, he did notice that support for sanctions was rapidly deteriorating. So he pursued the policy of "Smart Sanctions", which would have supposedly made it easier to get non-military suplies into Iraq. However, Russia and France would have none of that, and killed the issue before it was even brought to the UNSEC.

As long as you are checking figures, you ought to tally up the money made by Iraq in the oil-for-food program, divide by 500,000 people supposedly starved to death, and re-assess where the blame might lay.

You also conveniently forget that there was actually a US policy of dual containtainment of both Iran and Iraq. However, neither France nor Russia were interested in containment of Iran. Instead, they signed deals for Iranian nuke plants and gas pipelines. Tell me, do you think that with such a rich and hostile neighbor with newfound weapons capabilities, that Saddam would not renew his quest for WMDs with vigor once sanctions were dropped and the US pulled out militarily?


Congratulations! You are the first person, to my knowledge, to point out the huge discrepancy between Mr Ritter's position on Iraq at the time of his leaving the UN team in 1998 and his later conversion to the anti-war camp.
I heard umpteen interviews with Mr Ritter in the run up to the war. In no case was his 1998 resignation letter referred to.
Where do they find all these journalists with a 7 day memory window? Do they have to take pills to induce the syndrome?


Mrsizer, here's a handy graph showing America's relative contribution to Saddam's military:


(From Dissident Frogman)


Gordon, re Ritter, see Scott Ritter goes once more unto the breach on behalf of Saddam Hussein.

Chris Lightfoot

As to the graph Michael linked to-- I don't believe this plot. The original data on which it is based appear to be in this table from SIPRI, and much the same data are given in a paper by CSIS. Both give total UK exports to Iraq as being around $80 million during the 1980s. But according to (for instance) this 2002 piece in the Sunday Herald, Britain guaranteed a further £652 million of arms exports to Iraq for which no payment was received. That would make the UK the sixth-largest exporter (on the basis that, even if not paid for, the goods were delivered).

That said, the figures on this seem to be all over the place. Another view is presented in this letter to The Times from March last year. According to those figures Britain exported about $330 million of arms, but remains in about the same place in the rankings, behind such bastions of pacifism as the USSR (exported $31 billion to Iraq) and China ($5.5 billion). The US supplied rather less than did this country.


Great piece Oliver, welcome back.

Kieron argues in his original comment that Saddam posed no threat to his neighbours. Fantastic assersion. Try telling that to the families of the hundreds of thousands of Iranians killed in the Iran-iraq war, and to those in Kuwait.

And this guy argues for the effective lifting of sanctions on humanitarian grounds. Well, if such a policy had been pursued, then Iraq would have been in a position to rearm and reconstitute its weapons programmes as fast as it was able to do in the 1980s. Does this guy really want that to happen? If not, how else would he deal with that situation? Pure deterrence?


Regarding Ritter's mystifying flip flop on the existence of Hussein's WMDs- seems to me I recall that lil' Scottie received a big chunk of cash ($400k or so) from an Iraqi expat organization (funded by Baathists it is suspected) for the stated purpose of making a film, coincidentally at about the time he changed his 'impressive' mind about this issue.

Food for thought- dig in, people.

Billy Hank


I have some friends who voted for Al Gore who share your feelings. I think the big divide is 9/12 people versus 9/10 people. 9/12 people recognize that we are in a new and dangerous world and the trick is drag Islamic jihadists through their Reformation and Enlightment to avoid having to fight Poitiers and Vienna all over again. Into this mix add nuclear NORKs who, like Hirohito's island troops, don't know they have already lost the war but can still do damage, and you have the agenda for the next several years. Debate should be focussing on how we best defuse the nuke issue and transform totalitarian regimes without severly damaging our own society in the process through excess spending or political restrictions.

So far, Bush and his administration seems to be on a reasonable course. There were some glitches in the immediate aftermath of major conflict in Iraq. Garner was quickly fired and some things changed. Many of those missteps are in the process of being corrected. A lot of my initial concerns about the Patriot Act abuses have just not developed although vigilance is needed there.

Al Gore and ilk like Kieron are 9/10 people. The train of history has left the station. They and all their baggage have been left forlornly on the platform. They are in a right proper snit at having their persons and their thoughts deemed irrelevant to the world's future.


Chris, the Sunday Herald is temporarily closed for maintenance and the letter to the Times (is a letter to the editor much of a source?) requires a paid subscription.

What exactly does it mean to "guarantee[] a further £652 million of arms exports to Iraq for which no payment was received"? Did the UK ship those arms or not?

From your comment, I can't tell if the UK exported $80 million, $330 million, or $80 million + £652 million worth of arms. Could you point me to a single, definitive, available source to sort this out?

Chris Lightfoot

The letter to the Times won't be available outside the UK, I suppose. It's from a Professor Andrew J. Hamilton (a dermatologist, apparently), who quotes A H Cordesman's CSIS study. The relevant paragraph runs,

"In the key period between 1973-91 the US exported a mere $5 million of weapons to Iraq; more reprehensibly the UK sold $330 million-worth of arms. Of much greater interest are the arms export totals to Iraq of the four countries most against military action: Germany with $995 million, China $5,500 million, France $9,240 million, and the Russians a massive $31,800 million. So the claim that we armed Saddam has to be treated with a degree of care, particularly by those who would award the moral high ground in this debate to the leaders of nations such as Germany, France and Russia."

The Sunday Herald site is, as you say, presently off-line. Unfortunately they don't allow Google to cache their results, so I can't point you to that. Perhaps they'll reappear in the morning. The same figure appears in this 1996 written answer in Hansard, where Philip Oppenheim, then a Minister at the DTI, said, (emphasis mine)

"ECGD [the Export Credits Guarantee Department] estimated its maximum potential exposure on Iraq at £900 million at the end of 1988 and at £1,150 million at the end of 1989.

"ECGD's highest estimate of its maximum potential exposure on Iraq was £1,260 million in September 1986.

"Maximum potential exposure is calculated on the assumption of full utilisation of credit facilities, but taking into account repayments. Current exposure is £652 million. The difference is accounted for by a mixture of repayments since 1989, together with facilities not being fully utilised."

I expect that somebody else will be able to give a more definitive answer. but as I understand it, yes, the arms were shipped, but payment was not received; hence, the ECGD found itself liable to the exporters for £652m. Note that the £652m figure is from 1996, but I doubt that any repayments were made after that.

When I said that the figures seem to be all over the place, that's what I mean. I can't give you a definitive number for that reason. Given that £652m dwarfs the $80 million and (assuming that I'm correct in understanding that the arms were delivered) comes from a definitive source (the responsible government department), I think that any fair estimate would be in excess of £652 million. Exactly how the $330m was arrived at I don't know (but the details may be in the CSIS paper, which I only skimmed).

Kieron McNulty

Hello again

Well where to start. Let's start by saying no one has in the postings above has said what The US/UK has done with Iraq has any foundation in law.
The invasion obviously illegal under the UN charter and no one has questioned that. I suppose people think that is irrelevant and people who support the war are as Billy Hank puts it " are on the train of history" . I happen to think that attitude dangerous.

I do not think Saddam posed any threat to his neighbours in the region. His army was shattered , infrastructure shot to hell and the neighbouring countries armed forces quite able to look after themselves. I think neighbouring countries are more worried about what the US is going to do next.

Apparently the effect of the sanctions regime, according to posters above, was either

a. exaggerated
b.really bad but all Saddams fault

Well I dont think it was exaggerated 100 000s of thousands died. Yes Saddam was partly responsible - everyone knows that he didnt care less about his own people. But the agencies and countries that set these sanctions up knowing their likely effects have to share responsibility for those deaths. It was a crime no matter how you ideologues try to dress it up and use all your skills in casuistry.

The reason I concentrate on our crimes is because that is the moral thing to do. Our crimes are something I might be able do something about. Its very conveneint for people to concentrate on "our enemies" crimes. Why don't you try applying the same high standards to yourselves?

The west supported Iraq when he was at his worst. i saw a whole a tranche of statistics from posters saying the US didnt arm Saddam to any great extent . Yes that is true, but the West ; France and Germany - together with others for sure - did arm him. The US did support him up to the hilt, economically and diplomatically, through military inteligence during Saddams war against Iran - there are other ways of support. He was the US's favourite gangster in the region at the time even to the extent that when he blew up a US warship killing 37 sailors he was excused responsibility.

I suppose people will say "Yes but that was then and this is now..we had to do it then because of political exigencies..there has been a change of course now and George W Bush will lead the world into the sunlit uplands'. Well I dont think so. The lessons of history tell another story. This invasion was a long term measure to control Oil supplies. i think that is more realistic and fits the pattern established over the last 80 years or so.

I hope ihave given you enough material for another round of abuse from your good selves :-)

I would like to thank you as well. You lot have made me realize that i don't put my money where my mouth is. I am joining the UKs Campaign Against the Arms Trade tomorrow.



Charles Homme

>> Yes Saddam was partly responsible <<

And you wonder why people rip you to shreds.

kieron mcnulty

Thanks Charles

Do you actually have any arguments though?


Charles Homme

I presented you an argument in a previous post and you ignored it. Instead you decided to go down the path of pathetic moral equivalence, historical revisionism, far left wing rhetoric, and outright lies.

Kieron McNulty

Thanks Charles

Well you gave a list of Saddams crimes yes and certainly he is a very evil man and on that we both can agree. But what is the argument exactly?That the US can invade countries whenever it feels like it?Did Saddam have anything to with 9/11?

By the way what evidence is there that he tried to assasinate Bush Senior? I do know that the US however has tried (and suceeded )to assasinate loads of leaders around the world

Also could you explain what the phrase 'Moral Equivalence' means because I really don't know.

And also what are the outright lies I am meant to have written. What are they? I honestly would like to know. because it is quite a strong thing to say.





Charles Homme

The fact you acknowledge he was guilty of the horrendous crimes I listed then in the same paragraph wonder what rationale the US had to invade shows a complete disconnect. On top of the overwhelming moral justification he was in clear breach on numerous chapter 7 (the rare binding ones) UN resolutions.
Saddam wasn't some "tin pot dictator" that wasn't a threat to anyone. He was a mass murderer in the same league as Pol Pot and Stalin and in clear violation of international law.

Kieron McNulty


Ok he was in breach of UN resolutions. so who would be the responsible authority to deal with such breaches? The UN Security Council perhaps?

Or The US and the UK who can appoint themselves the worlds policeman - but of course policeman are meant to enforce the law not break it themselves.

I still dont know what moral equivalence means or why you think the reasons that theUS and UK gave for invading 'He is a threat to the region through his WMDs' are still tenable.

He certainly was a mass murderer though of course the bulk of his crimes happened when he had our support.

I still await with interest to see what lies I meant to have told


Charles Homme

Resolution 1441 clearly said "serious consequences" if he didn't come clean after 30 days, which he failed to do. It didn't add "if failing to comply, another resolution should be passed to decide the meaning of "serious consequences". I will add, though, I only debate this point because you seem dead set on that narrow rationale. The US and the UK don't need UN permission to defend themselves from threats. It has always struck me as odd when people blather on about the US doing something "illegal" under UN law and the UN says nothing of the sort.
Moral equivalence is as it sounds, morally equating two things (e.g atomic bombing of Hiroshima equaling Auschwitz). It's a poor debating ploy that removes context.

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