The basic problem with this very mild and overly generous 'Independent' Editorial is that the propaganda machine of the American Empire is now so super-capable it is practically a smart-weapon in itself. Once they set their mind to it, one way or another, they will 'manufacture' and propagate sufficient fears and reasons to overwhelm reality and the truth of the situation.
If there is to be a war, the world needs to know why
15 December 2002
True believers in the "Axis of Evil" have had a good week. First came claims that Iraq had given the deadly VX chemical agent to al-Qa'ida. Then a Korean freighter was intercepted in the Arabian Sea, carrying a hidden cargo of Scud missiles bound for Yemen, which also happens to be a lair of the terrorist organisation. There followed new allegations that Iran is secretly pursuing nuclear weapons. Even President Bush's severest critics were pressed to deny that he has a point when he brandishes the threat of a rogue state developing weapons of mass destruction and passing them on to terrorist groups.
This febrile atmosphere makes it more important than ever to distinguish between war with Iraq, which seems increasingly likely, and the wider war on terrorism. Contrary to the view of the Bush administration, they are not simply two sides of the same coin.
For one thing, as we have repeatedly pointed out, an attack on Iraq will only fuel anti-Americanism in the Arab and Islamic world, increasing sympathy for al-Qa'ida and driving new recruits into its ranks. Second, as we have also underlined, there is no proof of links between the terrorist organisation and Baghdad, beyond the fact that they have a common enemy in the United States.
All Washington can offer is bald assertions, without elaboration, from the likes of Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, and more detailed allegations from unidentified "senior officials". When pressed for evidence, the administration shelters behind the familiar and convenient mantra of how sensitive intelligence sources must be protected. But this will not do.
If Mr Bush decides on war, the world is entitled to know why. In 1962, John Kennedy presented unassailable photographic proof of Soviet missiles in Cuba when he imposed a blockade on the island. This president must provide comparable proof of danger if he chooses to attack Iraq now.
The clock is ticking. The UN Security Council meets on Thursday to discuss Saddam Hussein's weapons declaration. The Americans are far advanced with their military build-up, ready for war at short notice. Here in Britain defence chiefs are warning that our troops must soon leave for the Gulf if war with Iraq is to take place before the heat of the spring.
The Prime Minister, to his credit, has so far shown caution, wanting to give diplomacy a chance. Fortunately, Mr Bush's deeds in the 15 months since the terrorist attacks have been more measured than his sometimes intemperate language. He overruled his most hawkish advisers, choosing to deal with Saddam Hussein through the UN. The same hardliners now urge him to use Iraq's opaque declaration of its weapons' capabilities as grounds for military action. But Mr Bush must resist that temptation. Having embarked upon the UN route, he must stick with it.