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Bolt and Krauthammer Day

April 23rd, 2013

At Crooked Timber, Henry Farrell points out that it is now exactly a decade (24 times 5 months) since Charles Krauthammer told us that

Hans Blix had five months to find weapons. He found nothing. We’ve had five weeks. Come back to me in five months. If we haven’t found any, we will have a credibility problem.

Despite being utterly and repeatedly wrong about Iraq, and many other things, Krauthammer is now, as he was then, a prominent columnist at the Washington Post.

What about our own Krauthammers? The leading candidate is surely Andrew Bolt, and a search through the archives[1] finds him denouncing the Left saying, triumphantly “they were wrong”. Those attacked include Carmen Lawrence, Bob Brown, Robert Manne, Andrew Vincent and Paul Dibb. Here’s a typical example of Bolt’s vitriol

NO one tried harder to save Saddam than Greens leader Bob Brown, a notorious scaremonger, who claimed more than 100,000 Iraqi children would die in this war. He also quoted from a leaked UN report which predicted 900,000 refugees. In fact, hardly one Iraqi refugee has fled in four weeks.

Of course, Brown was right[2].

Bolt is pretty big on demands for retractions. So, has he ever apologized for this appalling, and utterly wrong, attack on the reputations of those who correctly predicted the disastrous outcomes of the Iraq war?

fn1. The News archive doesn’t seem to go back 10 years, so I’ve been using the Factiva database. Google found Bolt’s spray reproduced on the Free Republic (I haven’t heard anything of the Freepers for years, but apparently they are still going). I’d welcome any help with data sources, and also any suggestions for more absurd wrongness from 10 years ago. If there are enough good links, I might make this a regular feature

fn2. From the days of the Iraq debate, I can just imagine someone quibbling about Brown’s reference to “children” and demanding a source that specifies the ages of those who died as a result of this tragedy. Such quibbles, and their authors, will be treated with the contempt they deserve.

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  1. rog
    April 23rd, 2013 at 06:55 | #1

    Bolt et al remain unapologetic; they are (apparently) tireless fighters against the twin evils of socialism and militant Islam. Iraq was a battle, the Boston bombs prove that this war has not ended. (/irony)

  2. Ikonoclast
    April 23rd, 2013 at 06:56 | #2

    “Fama, malum qua non aliud velocius alium.” (Rumour, than whom no other evil thing is faster.) – Virgil.

    Or; ‘A lie is halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on.’

    It is easy to invent and then tell a lie about some complex phenomenon. However, to refute such a lie comprehensively is often an onerous task. For complex phenomena, proofs of the real case (and proofs that lies are lies) must run to dissertation size. Falsehood has the advantage. It tells a simple story and that simple story is often what the listener wants to hear.

    Lies for the most part win until the entire “house of lies” becomes untenable and crumbles. The liars have usually moved on or even shuffled off (the mortal coil) by this time and the house of lies collapses on others. Such is the way of humans. Most of our brain and mental complexity evolved to tell (and detect) lies. We are well evolved and complex liars. That is what humans naturally are. It takes personal effort and a formally developed and shared discipline (empiricism) to counter our natural devious and mendacious tendencies. Religion attempted to find truth but as all religions developed based on lies (at worst) or unprovable, unempirical assumptions (at best), religions failed in this regard.

  3. Brian
    April 23rd, 2013 at 07:58 | #3

    While I think the Iraq war was a mistake and so abysmally managed in the first year it is hard go comprehend – any time Hans Blix’ name is mentioned sets me off.

    You see, Hans Blix is the same incompetent that gave Saddam a clean bill the first time. It was Ekeus who found the WMD.

    And Ekeus was raring to go the second time. He was appalled (as were many, such as myself) that Blix, a proven incompetent boob, was selected to find WMD. Ekeus guaranteed that if he was allowed to go to Iraq, he would find WMD again.

    Things like that are why I consider GW Bush II a mockery of a moron. He surrounded himself with blithering, big-mouthed jackasses and their toadies. Not only did Bush and his cronies use lies (nuclear weapons development charges) to justify his stupid war – he then followed it up by systematically shutting down those people who could have (and would have) found the kinds of WMD that Saddam actually had. (VX and bio).

  4. Troy Prideaux
    April 23rd, 2013 at 08:30 | #4

    Bolt used to be a regular on Insiders and I’m sure those archives would have numerous little Bolt gems, but I do clearly remember fellow panelist David Marr ripping into him on one occasion after it all turned really bad in Iraq, which was … ah… interesting television 🙂

  5. Troy Prideaux
    April 23rd, 2013 at 08:52 | #5

    I assume you’ve visited “Boltwatch”

  6. John Quiggin
    April 23rd, 2013 at 08:57 | #6


    Can you give some dates and links for these claims? If Ekeus promised to find weapons in 2000, he and not Blix was the boob that time. It’s now clear that Saddam’s stocks of gas and germs had been destroyed well before that.

  7. Savvas Tzionis
    April 23rd, 2013 at 09:11 | #7

    But John, haven’t you worked out the real reason for the Iraq invasion?

    It’s so that the US led west can bankrupt themselves in order to then bail out the banks and not assist the poor!

    And with Europe having stuffed up as well, all you hear since the GFC is that it was the poorer nations fault and that austerity is needed to re-insert old style thrift and conservative values into these people.

    Since about 2010 you NEVER hear anything about the corrupt elite’s role in the mess we have.

  8. John Quiggin
    April 23rd, 2013 at 09:46 | #8

    @Troy Prideaux

    Boltwatch started in 2005. I’m thinking of sticking to a 10-year lag, so it will be useful in a couple of years time.

  9. Ikonoclast
    April 23rd, 2013 at 12:25 | #9


    “Ekeus guaranteed that if he was allowed to go to Iraq, he would find WMD again.”

    Ekeus could guarantee no such thing unless he was going to plant it. As JQ said “It’s now clear that Saddam’s stocks of gas and germs had been destroyed well before that.” This is now documented fact.

    Yes, we ought to say that by that time (start of Gulf War 2), Saddam had no WMD because of the Israeli bombing of Ozirak and because of Gulf War 1. This is not necessarily to totally justify those events but it is to say that’s where the cause and effect lay. No matter what you think of Gulf War 1 (UN sactioned and a broad coalition effort remember), going into Iraq the second time was unjustified, massive overkill (literally) and double punishment for at least one “crime”, WMD possession, already dealt with and non-recurring.

    Of course, we must note that the US and Israel are permitted to have WMD. All nations that are powerful or devious enough or have the right allies are able to get and keep WMD and are thus “permitted” to have WMD. That is the plain fact. “Permission” is granted by possessing unopposable power or some level of MAD (mutually assured destruction) power from global to regional.

    Nth Korea has MAD power over Sth Korea. With even conventional artillery, rockets, mass incendiaries, chemical and biological weapons but sans nuclear bombs it still has the capability to completely destroy Seoul in less than 24 hours and kill most of its 10 million inhabitants before they can flee. The Korean peninsular is a Mexican standoff situation. If Nth Korea ever used its power to destroy Seoul or to destroy a US carrier group (if Nth Korea has a nuclear weapon) then the reply from the US and allies would mean the complete cessation of the existence of Nth Korea and most of its people. Equally, if the US or anyone else ever attempts to attack Nth Korea then much of Sth Korea and sections of Japan cease to exist.

    I am horrified by MAD logic but it does seem to keep a peace in pratice. The price, of maintaing a MAD situation, in other foregone peaceful social and economic possibilites is extremely steep however.

  10. Ikonoclast
  11. TerjeP
    April 23rd, 2013 at 13:47 | #11

    In practice I think the invasion of Iraq was simple a resumption of the first Gulf War. Lots of people felt like they didn’t finish the job right the first time and were prepared to airbrush reality to rationalise a resumption of hostilities. Given ongoing military involvement in maintaining the Kurdish no fly zone and the trade embargoes much of the tension had never dissipated. I originally thought Bush senior did the right thing by not moving to topple Saddam once he was pushed out of Kuwait. With hindsight I’m less certain. A war that does not lead to an end of hostilities (on both sides) is a war that probably isn’t finished.

    In response to a caller Andrew Bolt shared some of his views on the Iraq war in the last ten minutes of his regular 2GB appearance on the Steve Price program last night (it’s available as a podcast). I like Bolt a lot but the Iraq war is definitely one of the issues on which I don’t share his outlook. Blair, Bush and Howard may not have personally cooked the books on evidence but they created a climate in which intelligence agencies gave them the answers they wanted. It was either deliberate or seriously negligent.

  12. Newtownian
    April 23rd, 2013 at 14:30 | #12


    I agree with most of the your analysis except MAD. Unfortunately each time confrontation occurs there is a risk of it going further and as time passes the (exceedence) probability increases. There is a nice analysis of why MAD is a non-solution, because of the way risk works, in Hellman, M.E., 2011. How risky is nuclear optimism? Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 67, 47-56.

    Basically as long as this strategy is in place we are playing Russian Roulette. The question then becomes not if but when there will be an alignment of sufficient bad factors leading to a nuclear war. Fortunately (in hindsight?) the recent bluster occurred when there were no other factors promoting the worst, there were relatively stable individuals in the White House, Moscow and Beijing. Pakistan and India seem to be sort of friendly.

    But if the sabre rattling had occurred in 1962? Or during in the less known near ‘oops false signal’ event in September 1983 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_Nuclear_War_Scare ??

    This problem is a disturbing one and it isn’t healthy to dwell too much on it. Have you heard of the Fermi Paradox? Worrying stuff as it suggests the logic of the evolution of civilizations may be self destruction even after they should know better, as is arguably our current circumstance.

  13. April 23rd, 2013 at 14:33 | #13

    Bolt will neither apologise nor give a retraction.

    I recommend reading Greg Barton’s book to everyone on this topic particularly when he tells Howard of his conclusions and what Howard does right after this.

    Iraq was never a threat to anyone. their planes were aged, they didn’t have spares to service their tanks and their army never proven in battle.

  14. Jim Rose
    April 23rd, 2013 at 17:41 | #14

    As I recall, after the end of the war it was found that Saddam destroyed most of his nuclear capacity so he was not caught with it by the inspectors. He did seek to protect his more concealable biological weapons capability.

    Saddam then played a fine game of bluff so they he looked like he had them so he looked strong and dangerous to his regional and internal rivals, of which he had more than a few.

    By pretending to have WMDs, he painted in himself into a corner. Others fell for his bluff and invaded.

    Would you have supported the war if WMDs were found?

  15. gerard
    April 23rd, 2013 at 19:25 | #15

    Others fell for his bluff and invaded.

    I think you mean “called his bluff”.

    An invasion would be the one act most likely to lead to the WMD being used.

    If they had actually believed that he actually had WMD, they would not have invaded (cf. North Korea).

  16. Ikonoclast
    April 23rd, 2013 at 20:08 | #16

    @Jim Rose

    WMDs were never going to be found in Iraq at any significant quality or quantity after the bombing of Ozirak 1981, Gulf War 1 of 1991 and the UNSCOM and IAEA inspections carried out numerous times from 1991 to 1998. In addition, various embargoes after 1991 strangled Iraq’s ability to trade, earn foreign currency and bring prohibited materials in. In other words, these measures were largely successful and were known in detail to be largely successful. It was clear to any knowledgeable person who followed this history that the WMD reports commissioned by Blair and Bush, with strong pressure on the agencies for positive findings, were completely inaccurate fabrications. They have been proven so since. The trail of responsibility for these fabrications (outright lies and distortions) goes straight to the doors of Blair and Bush.

    It was after Gulf War 1 that Saddam destroyed most of his potential (not developed) nuclear capacity so he was not caught with it by the inspectors. His nuclear capacity for bomb making was doubtful even then.

    “In a 2003 speech, Richard Wilson, a professor of physics at Harvard University who visually inspected the partially damaged reactor in December 1982, said that “to collect enough plutonium [for a nuclear weapon] using Osirak would’ve taken decades, not years”.[30] In 2005, Wilson further commented in The Atlantic:

    the Osirak reactor that was bombed by Israel in June 1981 was explicitly designed by the French engineer Yves Girard to be unsuitable for making bombs. That was obvious to me on my 1982 visit.[31]

    Elsewhere Wilson has stated that

    Many claim that the bombing of the Iraqi Osirak reactor delayed Iraq’s nuclear bomb program. But the Iraqi nuclear program before 1981 was peaceful, and the Osirak reactor was not only unsuited to making bombs but was under intensive safeguards.[32]

    In an interview in 2012, Wilson again emphasised: “The Iraqis couldn’t have been developing a nuclear weapon at Osirak. I challenge any scientist in the world to show me how they could have done so.”[33]

    Iraq was a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, placing its reactors under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.” – Wikipedia.

    All sorts of other factors and facts pertain to the entire situation from the fact that the US used to support Iraq and Saddam vs Iran to the fact that Saddam Hussein gassed the Kurds in a clear crime against humanity. But it is clear that the Western powers manipulated situations and public perceptions to follow its own agenda. This Western agenda is complex, self-serving, hypocritical and inconsistent to say the least.

    Again, we have this conservative moral simplism of “good guys versus bad guys”. Saddam certainly was a bad guy and for a while he was the US’s bad guy versus Iran. They supported him and used him when it suited them. The US’s moral duplicity in such matters is pronounced and frequent. They are not good guys either.

    Asking “Would you have supported the war if WMDs were found?” is like asking, after you bash someone on fabricated evidence of their malfeasance, “Would you have supported me bashing him if I HAD found a knife on him?” Morally, it’s an absurd and untenable inversion of the need for proof of guilt before punitive action.

    Gulf War 2 was never a just war. It was patently obvious to clear thinkers even in the lead up to it that it was being justified by a rather obvious set of lies. Those who can’t see that are simplistic black and white thinkers who can’t see through their own Western propaganda system.

  17. April 23rd, 2013 at 22:16 | #17

    It’s a tough ask. I too would recommend the great work of Jeremy Sear at ‘BoltWatch’ – but I see you’ve set a 10 year time capsule on it.

    The best I could do at short notice is this:


    It should get bonus points for mentioning Bolt, Krauthammer AND Ann Coulter. And extra points for being from April 2003 and containing horrible direct quotes from a Bolt column.

  18. April 23rd, 2013 at 22:44 | #18


    I think they call that ‘chutzpah’!

    So the murderous slaughter of the latest US invasion of Iraq (2003 – present), which we all said shouldn’t happen, isn’t the fault of the people who did it but G Bush Snr? Because, although we also opposed that war while you cheered it on, you now see in hindsight that he should have carried on and invaded – a position you now humbly accept would, in hindsight, have been much better for all involved as it would have avoided – hypothetically, or logically – the carnage you all supported in 2003.

    I’m reminded, yet again, of that Israeli attributed saying: “I can forgive you for killing my children, but I can never forgive you for forcing me to kill your children”.

    We really do occupy parallel universes.

  19. TerjeP
    April 24th, 2013 at 08:48 | #19

    I was opposed to the invasion of Iraq. And at the time of the Gulf War I felt too uninformed to comment either way. In hindsight my view of the Gulf War is quite mixed. I think it was good that Saddam didn’t get away with invading Kuwait but then he did ask the US for permission before hand and they gave him little reason to believe they were opposed.

    Analysis of events does not amount to excusing participants for mistakes and moral failure. I think Bush senior miscalculated. But none of us has perfect knowledge and it’s easy being an arm chair general. The primary and overwhelming culpability for the Iraq invasion rests squarely on the shoulders of Bush junior.

  20. TerjeP
    April 24th, 2013 at 08:52 | #20

    although we also opposed that war while you cheered it on

    Megan – I think you should apologise for that misinformed slur. I was vocally against the carnage of 2003.

  21. April 24th, 2013 at 09:20 | #21


    The “you” was collective and referred to the supporters of the first one (the Bush Snr one you suggest in hindsight maybe he should have ‘finished’). It’s not the 2003 one, it’s the one you say you had mixed feelings about. Although you are right about the US being to some extent responsible for either giving Iraq the green light or, at the least sending mixed messages.

    And kudos for your vocal opposition to the 2003 one.

  22. April 24th, 2013 at 13:28 | #22

    I’d welcome any help with data sources

    I used to be able to use “Newsbank” online but the local library doesn’t seem to offer it anymore.

    It looks like staff at UQ may be able to have access:


    They have a section “Australia’s Newspapers” which had all the Murdoch you could possibly handle, I’m pretty sure from memory it goes back more than 10 years.

  23. TerjeP
    April 24th, 2013 at 13:32 | #23

    The “you” was collective and referred to the supporters of the first one (the Bush Snr one you suggest in hindsight maybe he should have ‘finished’).

    I did not cheer on the first war. I watched it on TV with very mixed feelings. And who is the collective “you” in all this. Is it some group that does not include me? In which case why not try the word “they”.

  24. April 24th, 2013 at 14:51 | #24


    I took it from your earlier comments that you hadn’t opposed it, and in fact now those mixed feelings – with the benefit of hindsight – lean toward the proposition that Bush Snr should have “finished” it (by doing the 2003 invasion back in 1991).

    If you opposed it or didn’t support it at the time obviously “you” are not in the “they”.

  25. April 24th, 2013 at 14:53 | #25

    Megan @ #21, TerjeP @ #20,

    No doubt, you also remember the lie that in 1990 Iraqi soldiers brutally threw Kuwaiti new-born babies out of artificial incubators onto the hospital floor where they perished?

    Those, who do not, may find find of interest this Youtube broadcast by Barrie Zwicker, which features that infamous broadcast in which the 15 year old “nurse Nayirah” presented her fabricated claims to a Washington press conference to help the first Bush administration overcome public opposition to their war plans.

    The same mass media which peddled that lie has since peddled more in order to justify “The Illegal war on Libya” (2012, Clarity Press – edited by former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney) and, since then, the proxy terrorist war against Syria in which 70,000 have so far died.

    Fortunately, the Syrian people and their government have proven more capable than Iraq and Libya of defending themselves against the world’s bullies and their terrorist proxies. But no-one’s endurance can last forever against the hordes of terrorist killers now flocking into the hostile countries bordering Syria. The Syrian people need the help of people of conscience throughout the rest of the world. Without that help, the same terrible fate endured by the Iraqis since 1990 awaits them.

  26. April 24th, 2013 at 15:05 | #26


    you simply got Terje wrong.

    I was around then and remember his views.

    He is totally correct!

  27. TerjeP
    April 24th, 2013 at 19:03 | #27



  28. Jim Rose
    April 25th, 2013 at 10:15 | #28

    @Ikonoclast thanks for your considered and detailed reply. your best post.

    as you and gerald noted, no one seriously suggests attacking North Korea to disarm them. They will shoot back with biological and chemical weapons. Seoul is in artillery range.

    Attacking an adversary with weapons of mass destruction is foolish.

    This point was lost in political theatre surrounding the Iraq war.

    One side said they had the weapons, they other side disagreed.

    The opponents on the war could not bring themselves to say if Iraq does have weapons of mass destruction, they could use them if attacked. That makes war unthinkable.

    The best alternative is deterrence: The United States has a nuclear delivery system to launch retaliatory strikes with pinpoint accuracy.

    Israel has more than a sufficient capability to deter an Iranian nuclear attack. Any attack ny Iraq or Iran on America would be a regime-extinguishing event.

    The USSR and China played the ‘I am crazy ideological zealot with my finger on the nuclear trigger’ card too: remember Mao and Khrushchev.

    China became a nuclear power under Mao Zedong, a leader who exceeded Stalin’s record of genocide. Mao’s publicly enunciated views on nuclear warfare also were alarming in the extreme.

    China emerged as a nuclear power on the eve of the Cultural Revolution. China during that orgy of fanaticism makes today’s Iran look like a normal, even sedate, country.

    Given the choice between becoming Anti-war Leftists for the Bomb and deploying much weaker he said, she said arguments against Iraq war, too many went for the weak arguments.

    Admitting that deterrence works was a bridge too far for the anti-war movement. That admission would have invalidated the purpose of the entire post-war peace movements.

  29. gerard
    April 25th, 2013 at 12:54 | #29

    that’s a very confused post Jim Rose

    a confused attempt to fault the anti-war side for being completely correct about the war.

    what about the pro-war side? were they really that stupid, or just pretending?

    it was obvious that the official “WMD” case for the Iraq War was no case at all, as you seem to concede.

    the case for war made no sense at all, and could only be considered convincing to a person that was too stupid to understand the concept of deterrence.

    the very fact that the war went ahead confirmed that the pretext was false.

    In 2002-2003, Iraq was saying that they had no WMD, Bush and Blair said they did.

    If Bush and Blair actually believed that Iraq actually had the WMD that Bush and Blair were saying they had, then the war would not have gone ahead.

    the anti-war side understood this and the pro-war side either didn’t understand, or they pretended not to.

  30. April 25th, 2013 at 13:08 | #30


    You were around the blogs in 1991?

  31. April 25th, 2013 at 14:58 | #31

    I know Terje

  32. April 25th, 2013 at 17:08 | #32

    Jim Rose’s Cold War condemnation of ‘communism’ (@ #28) raises more issues than can be expediently addressed here. I already addressed some of the issues here here almost a year ago. Even though it is contrary to the depiction of Lenin as a brutal tyrant by conventional, supposed, ‘wisdom’, I am still waiting for someone to show me where I am wrong.

    Leaders of capitalist nations were not averse to embracing tyrants who wore the label ‘communist’ when it suited them. Thus Nixon visited Mao Zedong from 21 March 1972 as U.S. B52 bombers were carpet bombing Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia — countries to whom China was supposedly allied. I somehow doubt if either Mao’s victims or the Indochinese would have felt much joy as the two embraced.

    Those quick to denounce North Korea for having acquired nuclear weapons should at least acknowledge the broader historical context.

    The war against the Korean people, by the United States and Koreans who had collaborated with the Japanese, which commenced in 1945, was possibly the worst crime in history against a single people. Add to this all the wars and suffering that the Koreans have suffered at the hands of both the U.S. and Japan since the middle of the 19th century and the scale of suffering by the Korean people defies comprehension. Estimates of the number of Koreans who died during the ‘hot war’ of 1950-1953 vary between the order of 20% and 30%. North Korea was bombed so heavily during the war that by the end of the war not one building was left standing and U.S. bombers had difficulty in finding targets.

  33. indigo
    April 25th, 2013 at 19:14 | #33

    Thanks for bringing up Bolt’s extraordinary op-ed. I remember it from 2003, actually, especially the last line, full of thunderous, righteous certainty. And so wrong. Bolt hardly wrote about Iraq after this, as it all went wrong.

  34. Jim Rose
    April 26th, 2013 at 18:05 | #34

    gerard :
    a confused attempt to fault the anti-war side for being completely correct about the war.

    The Antiwar Left got lucky.

    “One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line.” –President Bill Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998

    “Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face.” –Madeline Albright, Feb 18, 1998

    “He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983.” –Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998

    “Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.” Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998

    “We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.” — Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

    HT: david flagstaff’s blog

  35. April 26th, 2013 at 18:48 | #35

    I don’t know if it’s just me or if everybody else experiencing issues with your site.

    It appears like some of the text within your posts are running off the screen.
    Can somebody else please comment and let me know if this is happening
    to them too? This could be a issue with my internet browser
    because I’ve had this happen previously. Kudos

  36. Kym Durance
    April 27th, 2013 at 20:23 | #36

    Bolt never apologises; he hopes with his rapid fire denunciations of others, allegations of lying or deception and rascist inferences his opponents are simply swamped in the amount of garbage he produces – and often they are – very few call him to account – it seems those with access to popular media platforms are either overwhelmed by his voluminous out put,fearful of reprisals or just think that if we ignore him he will go away. The same can be said of Akerman for that matter

  37. Fran Barlow
    April 27th, 2013 at 21:56 | #37

    @Jim Rose

    Ah … Ms Albright … such an exemplar of human solidarity …

    Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

    Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.

    –60 Minutes (5/12/96)

  38. Jim Rose
    April 27th, 2013 at 22:54 | #38

    @Fran Barlow why was Al Gore so mistaken?

  39. Fran Barlow
    April 27th, 2013 at 23:28 | #39

    You’ll need to be more specific Jim. I don’t doubt that he is regularly mistaken, but about what, precisely, in your view?

  40. Jim Rose
    April 28th, 2013 at 09:29 | #40

    @Fran Barlow gore on weapons of mass destruction in iraq.

  41. Fran Barlow
    April 28th, 2013 at 09:48 | #41

    Bill Maher explores the love the Faux News tribe have for The Constitution. As it turns out, not so much

  42. John Quiggin
    April 28th, 2013 at 11:09 | #42

    @JR This is silly, as I pointed out not long ago. Until Saddam agreed to inspections in December 2002, it was perfectly reasonable to believe he had WMDs. Once the inspections found nothing, and the US refused to reveal its supposed sources, it was clear that he did not.

    You were suckered by the likes of Bolt and Krauthammer then and now.

  43. Fran Barlow
    April 28th, 2013 at 12:09 | #43

    @John Quiggin

    Indeed … and as with so many things it is quite one thing to accept that there is a possibility that a particular thing might begin to present a serious problem, if it exists and is ignored, and quite another to conclude that one particular response only is merited.

    Some of the climate delusionists put this argument on climate change policy, so they are certainly familiar with it. If one thought, in late 2001, that Saddam might have deployable WMD the first thing one would want to establish is whether those fears were well-founded, and if they were, what the most feasible responses were and how long one had to clarify the matter and explore one’s options without serious cost to legitimate interests.

    This would be especially important if one felt that it was in practice unlikely Saddam had such weapons.

    Here’s one quote from Gore:

    We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.” — Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

    That was true. Saddam had once had such stores. They might still have been in existence though their usefulness degrades over time. That’s not saying they are deployable 23/9/02.
    It’s agnostic but clearly trying to protect his right flank. As is this on the same date:

    [Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power]

    Again, he speaks of a “search” — weapons to be acquired rather than existing weapons, but playing to the right.

    This is part of a much longer quote cited by the right against Gore:

    [Iraq does pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf and we should organize an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction. Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power]

    Again, the language is ambiguous. An ‘international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction’ could simply be the willingness to enforce an inspection regime backed by sanctions and oversight of supply of WMD-related technologies.

    Gore was clearly playing politics, but he was carefully leaving himself wiggle-room.

  44. Jim Rose
    April 28th, 2013 at 13:43 | #44

    @John Quiggin the case agianst war included that FURTHER rounds of inspection would do the trick.

    You can’t have it both ways. Inspections cleaned the weapons out and further inspections will find the remaining weapons.

  45. Katz
    April 29th, 2013 at 06:45 | #45

    “We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.” — Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

    This sentence is ambiguous:

    1. Saddam is storing at this time secret supplies.

    2. Saddam once stored, but no longer stores, secret supplies.

    Gore probably meant 2. But for reasons of his own, JR asserts it to mean 1.

    Language is a tricky thing even for honest folks.

  46. Jim Rose
    April 29th, 2013 at 06:57 | #46

    “We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.” — Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

    This sentence is ambiguous:
    1. Saddam is storing at this time secret supplies.
    2. Saddam once stored, but no longer stores, secret supplies.
    Gore probably meant 2. But for reasons of his own, JR asserts it to mean 1.
    Language is a tricky thing even for honest folks.

    katz, was Gore speaking in the passed tense, as you suggest?

    We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.

    We have no evidence, however, that he has shared any of those weapons with terrorist group.

    However, if Iraq came to resemble Afghanistan – with no central authority but instead local and regional warlords with porous borders and infiltrating members of Al Qaeda than these widely dispersed supplies of weapons of mass destruction might well come into the hands of terrorist groups.

    see http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2002-09-23-gore-text_x.htm

    googling a phrase to check the rest of the speech, which I just did now, is not hard. for reasons of your own, you preferred irresponsible and ill-informed speculation.

  47. Katz
    April 29th, 2013 at 08:06 | #47

    And for reasons of your own you have construed Gore’s speech as a support for Bush’s unilateral bellicosity. It isn’t.

    For reasons of your own you have construed Gore’s admission that some residual “widely dispersed” remnants of chemical weaponry was in Gore’s view a cassus belli. It wasn’t.

  48. Jim Rose
    April 29th, 2013 at 20:37 | #48

    @Katz we were discussing the tense of his words

  49. plaasmatron
    April 30th, 2013 at 21:50 | #49

    I was riled by Miranda Devine’s coining of a new term, the “neo-pacs”, as if pacifism had at some point gone out of style…


    “Still, ridiculous though he (Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the Iraqi Information Minister) is, he is a valuable metaphor for the sorts of “truths” we have been hearing about the war from a group of people you could call neo-pacifists. This is a tiny unelected cabal of influential left-wingers who have infiltrated the media, universities, newspapers’ letters pages, and Simon Crean’s brain. They all share a common hatred of John Howard and a sense of cultural superiority, more akin to the French than the Americans.

    Then this week, when they could no longer deny that the coalition had the upper hand, the neo-pacs changed tack. Suddenly they didn’t want to talk about the war any more. Or if they did it was only to lament how “one-sided” it had been, or to demand to see the weapons of mass destruction, the “smoking gun” that proves al-Sahaf and his regime pals really are liars.

    As always, the neo-pacs have a fallback position on WMDs. Any found in Iraq will have been planted there by the Americans. The neo-pacs rolled out a dazzling array of diversionary tactics to avoid talking about the coalition advances.”

  50. April 30th, 2013 at 22:15 | #50


    It’s unsurprising that her “neo-pacs” never really caught on.

    Glad she’s gone back where she belongs.

    On the other hand, I am genuinely surprised that my #phonehackingscum hashtag on twitter still hasn’t got traction after all these years.

    Sadly, apart from sending David Hicks back to GITMO, the current ALP government is identical to Howard’s.

  51. Jim Rose
    April 30th, 2013 at 22:32 | #51

    @Megan David Hicks has that rare gift of wandering around in a daze in some of the most dangerous places in the world and living to tell his story.

    The fact that Hicks was accepted into the ranks of al-Qaeda (or the Taliban) does not say much for their standards for recruitment and background checks or their fighting effectiveness. You wonder about the quality of aspiring suicide bombers they turned away as not of the right stuff? I was surprised al-Qaeda or the Taliban did not shoot him out of hand as a spy.

  52. Chris O’Neill
    May 4th, 2013 at 23:22 | #52

    @John Quiggin

    Once the inspections found nothing, and the US refused to reveal its supposed sources,

    Curveball lied. Thus the war was started on a lie. There are still plenty of clowns who deny that, of course.

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