Given the Blair dossier, is there any alternative to attacking ASAP?

On 24 September 2002, Prime Minister Tony Blair published the a 35-page dossier on the case against Saddam Hussein. Even the Executive Summary is too long to reproduce here, but here’s point #6.

6. As a result of the intelligence we judge that Iraq has: [ul][li]continued to produce chemical and biological agents;[]military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, including against its own Shia population. Some of these weapons are deployable within 45 minutes of an order to use them; []command and control arrangements in place to use chemical and biological weapons. Authority ultimately resides with Saddam Hussein. (There is intelligence that he may have delegated this authority to his son Qusai);[]developed mobile laboratories for military use, corroborating earlier reports about the mobile production of biological warfare agents;[]pursued illegal programmes to procure controlled materials of potential use in the production of chemical and biological weapons programmes;[]tried covertly to acquire technology and materials which could be used in the production of nuclear weapons;[]sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa, despite having no active civil nuclear power programme that could require it;[]recalled specialists to work on its nuclear programme;[]illegally retained up to 20 al-Hussein missiles, with a range of 650km, capable of carrying chemical or biological warheads;[]started deploying its al-Samoud liquid propellant missile, and has used the absence of weapons inspectors to work on extending its range to at least 200km, which is beyond the limit of 150km imposed by the United Nations;[]started producing the solid-propellant Ababil-100, and is making efforts to extend its range to at least 200km, which is beyond the limit of 150km imposed by the United Nations; [/li]constructed a new engine test stand for the development of missiles capable of reaching the UK Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus and NATO members (Greece and Turkey), as well as all Iraq’s Gulf neighbours and Israel;[li]pursued illegal programmes to procure materials for use in its illegal development of long range missiles;learnt lessons from previous UN weapons inspections and has already begun to conceal sensitive equipment and documentation in advance of the return of inspectors.[/ul][/li][/quote]
So, for those who oppose an attack on Iraq, what realistic option do you suggest?

Um the much-hyped “intelligence dossier” was a damp squib with little important information not already known.

As for what to do about it: take up Saddam’s offer of inspectors after applying more diplomatic pressure and obtaining more concessions and clarifications. Keep a military attack option open by sending more troops to the Gulf. Send in the inspectors and see how effectively they are allowed to function.

What people forget is that even the “flawed” inspections regime succeeded in destroying large parts of Saddam’s weapons facilities especially his nuclear facilities.

They also forget that invasion is no gurantee of US control over the weapons especially if a desperate Saddam decides to give them away to terrorists or if there is chaos in post-war Iraq and various rogue elements grab them.

So we have
a) inspections: an inexpensive method of destroying weapons with a succesful track record.
2)invasion: a hugely inexpensive method of destroying weapons with no track record and enormous uncertainty.

It’s not that difficult.

Of course I meant “invasion : a hugely expensive method” in my previous post

From today’s Washington Post, online at

Quote from the respected editor of Jane’s World Armies:

"However, there appeared to be little new information in the report. Analysts have been warning for years that Saddam has continued to develop chemical and biological weapons and has also tried to develop nuclear weapons, although with little sign of success.

Maj. Charles Heyman, editor of Jane’s World Armies, said the report “does not produce any convincing evidence, or any killer fact, that says that Saddam Hussein has to be taken out straight away.”"

Similar commentary in FT and Economist.
E.g. from the Economist:
“But it is unlikely to sway all sceptics: much of the information in it was already in the public domain; much of it is unsubstantiated assertion attributed to “intelligence”, whose sources can understandably not be revealed; and the assessment of the seriousness and imminence of the threat relies on reading the mind of Saddam Hussein.”

*When you wish away a nuke, though you may be called a kook,
Anything your heart desires will come to you

Just as long as you believe, they’ll be safe in Tel Aviv.
When you wish away a nuke as dreamers do.

(When New York is blown up out of sight,
Robert Fisk will say it served us right.)

When the world has gone to hell we’ll depend on Tinker Bell,
When you wish away a nuke, your dreams come true.*

apologies to Ned Washington

CyberPundit, wouldn’t the fact that it’s been a decade since we started inspections, and Saddam still has WMDs, be something of an argument against the effectiveness of these inspections?


Not at all. Inspections were stopped four years ago and it is in that period that Saddam has built them up again. When the inspectors were actually there they destroyed huge quantities of weapons.

That dossier appears to contain a) nothing that hasn’t already been in the papers, b) a lot that has been known for several years.

Seems that wishing away nukes in the Middle East has been going on for a long time… The name Mordechai Vanunu mean anything to you? Would Israel’s nuclear capability be sufficient justification for pre-emptive action from any of its neighbours? Would it be sufficient justification for militarily enforceable UN resolutions?

If you disagree, please give reasons.

You want reasons for my disgreement, jjimm. OK, but you could have written my post as easily as I could.

What differrence does that make? Are you arguing that because we didn’t attack Iraq at some earlier moment in time, we’re barred from attacking now? Furthermore, there has long been some question about the extent of Iraq’s WMDs. The Blair Dossier adds to our information and our confidence in it.

Absolutely. In fact, Israel’s mere existance would be sufficient justification for preemtive action from its neighbours, as they have demonstrated over and over. The reality is, many of Israel’s neighbors are committed to Israel’s destruction, regardless of how many angels you or I find on the head of a pin.

Israel and the UN are a whole separate issue. However, Israel is in no way parallel to Iraq. Here are some differences. Israel is
– a democracy
– with full civil liberties
– which has never used WMDs
– which has shown a respect for human life
– without prejudice based on religion, sexual oritation, sex, etc.
– has not made unprovoked attacks on other countries
– has not lied to the world about its military buildup

The Blair dossier seemed to me to say very little beyond “our intelligence reports that…” or “we believe that…” - lots of informed speculation, in short. Of course I don’t expect them to be revealing names, dates and places of this information gathering, but then again I was at a loss wondering how any kind of genuine evidence could be presented publically.

Is there really anything new and convincing in there? (i.e. something that would convince an undecided member of the public who is only slightly happier to believe what Blair says than what Hussein says).

I doubt that anyone on this board gives the slightest credence to what Saddam Hussein says. (If any of you DO have some degree of belief in Saddam, I urge you to speak up.)

The real split is between those who believe what Blair says and those who prefer to not think about the problem.

There ought to be a third group: people who agree with Blair’s assessment of the problem, but who have a solution other than attacking Iraq. One reason I started this thread was to find out if there really are alternatives worth considering. So far, I have not seen any suggestions.

Well, no. Hardly the point. Mr. Blair and Our Leader have gone rushing up to the UN and began pounding the war drums and insisting that the crisis is immediate, action must be taken now, and that action should be war.

Now, if the “evidence” is as it is portrayed, one would imagine that the great majority of the worlds delegates would stampede in order to secure a place on the war wagon. Hardly seems to be the case.

Are we to believe that only these two leaders, out of all the world, can see the truth, and all others are fools? Well, clearly we are blessed amongst the nations, are we not?

The question the Dynamic Duo ignore over and over again still rests on the immediacy of the crisis. What dreadful development has occured that necessitates immediate, preemptive war? Time and again, they have ducked this question by attempting to shift the focus on how long all of this has been going on.

So lets put the question on the other foot (so to speak): what new information is contained in Mr. Blair dossier that impels immediate action? What has he revealed to us that hasn’t been revealed already?

Anything? Anything at all?

I disagree.

You seem to be saying that Blair is correct unless you have a better solution. That is incorrect; Blair could be wrong independently of whether someone has a better suggestion.

Personally, I obviously lend more credence to Blair than to Hussein, but I disagree with the characterisation of this document as being all the evidence that’s needed. As an auditor ‘evidence’ to me is more than unsupported statements. My problem is in where I can get evidence given that (a) Hussein certainly won’t give it and (b) Blair can’t give it (because of the sensitivity of any sources).

Apologies. I was disagreeing with December, not Elucidator.

First lesson in a GD exchange, let not december a summary of a debate make. It will be some funhouse mirror of reality.

Rubbish. Not only is it a straw man (“prefer not to think about the problem” deliberately ignores the counter-point by cyberpundit in re inspections), but is grossly inaccurate.

Although in keeping with tradition on december’s part.

No, the sole reason you started this thread was to engage in your usual mischaracterizations of other’s arguments, incoherent hand-waving in regards to your position and generally to posture in a IMHO manner.

You would do your side of the argument well to exit the debate and let others more skilled in advancing an argument do so.

The actual debate on this issue is in the following:

(a) The level and true nature of the Saddam threat. This includes actual current holdings of weapons of mass destruction and an assessment of ex-Iraq territory threat.
(b) The nature of a response to the same, including a rational cost-benefit analysis of the various options. Willy nilly chicken little hand-waving about WMD and the “madness” or whatever of Saddam or the reverse, pretending Iraq has not at least some extent capacity are both charicatures of argument and rational discourse.

On (b) there are two paths:
(i) Inspection
(ii) War and if so sub-parts (a) when and (b) how and © with whom.

Now, if this perhaps concentrates some minds, it will have served a purpose other than wasting my time in a fruitless attempt to spear red herrings and burn strawmen.

Before I answer your question, we need to deal with this “new” business. I have already argued that our actions should be based on reality, regardless of whether certain information is new or old. If you think only new information should be considered, please explain why. Otherwise, please re-state your request, and I’ll be happy to respond.

Regarding my motives. I bow to your omniscience.

Regarding the “IMHO manner,” I apologize for a meager 35-page long cite. However, it was at least based on British Intelligence.

“One reason I started this thread was to find out if there really are alternatives worth considering. So far, I have not seen any suggestions.”
Well you can start by re-reading my post. This is a pretty pathetic performance, December. You start a thread, a number of people make careful counter-arguments, you blithely ignore them and carry on as if they don’t exist , and no doubt you will repeat your dubious assertions in some later thread as if nothing had happened. What’s the point?

Well, that is a start, however recognizing your own piss-poor performance in these exchanges and the transparency of your style (if it is unconscious that is all the more sad) would be a far better start.

No, that last would be directed to your subsequent disengagement from anything ressembling a counter-argument.

Again, let us invite someone moderately more skilled in argumentation to defend your points, as you are just going to make your own argument look bad.

CP, the world tried inspections in 1991. In theory, inspections are still in effect today, since the Security Council never voted to discontinue them. Inspections were a dismal failure. As a result of that failure, Iraq now has a huge arsenal of WMDs and rockets with enough range to attack Israel, Turkey and Greece with them.

So inspections have already been tried and they didn’t work.

Furthermore, the Blair Dossier says, “Iraq has…learnt lessons from previous UN weapons inspections and has already begun to conceal sensitive equipment and documentation in advance of the return of inspectors.” So, it appears that Saddam will be able to hide his WMDs and inspections will fail worse than before.

Also note that Saddam’s offer of “unlimited” inspection had many limits. Even in the face of immanent attack, he has not offered truly unlimited inspections.

So, would you please explain why inspections would work now?

Case in point.