The defenders of the Bush Iraq policy rolled out a new talking point this morning on the Sunday talk shows. That is: the Bush administration wasn’t the only one to get the pre-war intelligence wrong — rather, this was a global failure of intelligence.
Sen. John McCain: “Every intelligence agency in the world, including the Russian, including the French, including the Israeli, all had reached the same conclusion, and that was that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.” [Face the Nation]
Sen. Pat Roberts: “Not only ours but the British, not only that but the French, not only that but the Russians, not only that but the Israelis – this was a worldwide intelligence failure.” [Fox News Sunday]
Former White House Political Director Ken Mehlman: “The UN looked at it, the Germans looked at it, the French looked at it”¦ they all agreed that this guy has WMD.” [Meet the Press]
What the right wants you to believe is that because these intelligence agencies may have believed Saddam had WMD, they also believed that the intelligence rose to the necessary level of justifying military force to invade Iraq. That is entirely false. In fact, many of our friends and allies believed the opposite — that based on the intelligence they had, the threat of Iraq did not rise to the level of justifying immediate force.
FRANCE: President Jacques Chirac: “France is not pacifist. We are not anti-American either. We are not just going to use our veto to nag and annoy the U.S. But we just feel that there is another option, another way, a less dramatic way than war, and that we have to go down that path. And we should pursue it until we have come to a dead end, but that is not the case yet.” [CNN, 3/17/03]
GERMANY: Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer: “The Security Council is now meeting for the third time within a month at ministerial level to discuss the Iraq crisis. This shows the urgency we attach to the disarmament of Iraq and to the threat of war. … Are we really in a situation that absolutely necessitates the ‘ultima ratio’, the very last resort? I think not, because the peaceful means are far from exhausted.” [Statement by Fischer to Security Council, 3/7/03]
RUSSIA: Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov: “What is really in the genuine interests of the world community? Continuing the albeit difficult but clearly fruitful results of the inspectors’ work, or resorting to force, which inevitably will result in enormous loss of life and is fraught with serious and unpredictable consequences for regional and international stability? It is our deep conviction that the possibilities for disarming Iraq through political means do exist. And they really exist. And this cannot but be acknowledged.” [Statement by Ivanov, 3/7/03]
CHINA: Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan: “We believe that as long as we stick to the road of political settlement, the goal of destroying Iraq’s WMD could still be obtained. Resolution 1441 did not come by easily. Given the current situation, we need resolve and determination, and more importantly, patience and wisdom.” [Statement by Jiaxuan, 3/7/03]