[R-G] Powell's Fairy Tales: Puerile and Patronising
pieinsky at igc.org
Wed Feb 5 15:20:45 MST 2003
Powell's Fairy Tales: Puerile and Patronising
The "evidence" which was presented to the United Nations Security Council
today by Colin Powell was a miscellany of obscure recordings which were
misinterpreted by the US Secretary of State and risible satellite
photographs which bore a strange resemblance to those which had been taken
in Afghanistan two years before.
Colin Powell described the snippets of conversation and cloudy satellite
pictures as "solid evidence" that Iraq was in breach of UN SC Resolution
1441 and that this created the grounds for "serious consequences" to be
He began by playing two recordings of conversations between Iraqi officials
speaking about sites to be inspected by the UNMOVIC team. In one, the Iraqi
claimed "We don't have anything left", interpreted by Colin Powell, to
quote, "It was not around" when the inspectors came. There is a subtle and
unsubstantiated insinuation in Powell's remark, this being that the material
had been removed. Or destroyed, in accordance with the provisions of the UN
Resolution but this hypothesis was systematically ignored by the head of US
diplomacy throughout his arrogant, forbearing and bullying intervention.
In the second recording, a Republican Guard received a message from an
official which stated "There is a possibility that there is by chance
forbidden ammo" in the compound. Colin Powell interpreted this as a message
to "evacuate it" because there was a "presence of weapons of mass
Not so. The Iraqi message could have involved anything from out-of-date
shells, and we do not know whether the subject of this conversation was the
cache of obsolete arms that the inspectors found lying under three years of
bird excrement, to banned components. It does not automatically mean that
weapons of mass destruction are involved as Colin Powell so simplistically
and childishly tried to state.
The fact that Colin Powell was trying so obviously to find links where there
were none, does nothing to further the notion that the Bush administration
believes in the UNO as a forum of debate. Instead, it lends weight to the
belief that the United States of America prefers to ride roughshod over the
rest of the international community, as has long been suspected.
The next piece of "solid intelligence" was a series of reports that weapons
of mass destruction were being hidden in homes or moved around the
countryside in cars, or in trucks under palm trees. It is patently evident
that Colin Powell, or the speechwriter, does not understand the complicated,
delicate systems which compose the high-tech weaponry of today. These are
not shields and spears that can be slung into the back of a truck and carted
off across the desert. Colin Powell did not back up this claim with any
source of evidence and as such, it is no more than hearsay and gossip,
making the US Secretary of State no more than a cheap guttersnipe.
"Solid Intelligence" was supposed to be corroborated by many sources,
including intelligence agencies of other countries. Again, the sources were
never mentioned. If these sources were the cream of world intelligence
agencies which allowed the 11th September to happen on Colin Powell's
doorstep, perhaps it would have been more plausible to leave them out of
what was supposed to be a serious report.
Interspersed with interjections such as "Tell me! Answer me!" seeming as if
he were addressing a convention of boy scouts, showing an utter disrespect
for his colleagues on the UN Security Council, Powell went on to back up his
evidence with puerile remarks such as "We know from evidence", without ever
The greatest guffaw is the satellite pictures. True, Colin Powell had said
before he introduced them, that they were very difficult to interpret and
that experts had spent hours poring over them. In other words, in a
sickeningly patronising tone, he was saying "These are so difficult to
understand but I will tell you how to interpret them", as if his
misinterpretations of the recordings were a sound precedent.
Evidently, if it took experts hours and hours to discern what they were
looking at, the photographs serve as nothing regarding "solid evidence",
making the presentation of these images ludicrous. Obscure rectangular
buildings were then shown, looking suspiciously like those taken over
Afghanistan, which Colin Powell referred to as "one of the chemical bunkers"
and then vehicles, "decontamination vehicles" or "vehicles to move missiles"
. Previous claims that WMD was being produced at a similar-looking building,
which was subsequently inspected, turned out to be wrong: the building was a
production facility for powdered baby milk.
One facility, he claimed, was cleaned out on 22nd December, so that when the
weapons inspectors arrived, there was nothing to find. Surely they had
equipment to check whether or not there were vestiges of chemical or
biological weapons. It is simply not possible to load such substances into
plastic bags, chuck them onto the backs of lorries and speed them off to
fight the elements under some palm tree.
Risibly, and here is the cherry on the cake, immediately after pointing out
that "trucks arrived to move more missiles", Powell stated "We don't know
precisely what Iraq is moving".
This presentation of "hard evidence" is a tissue of lies, gossip,
misinterpretation, cynical manoeuvring and possibly even misrepresentation,
aimed at providing a case for a war against Iraq. The UN Security Council is
not a kindergarten or a scout camp. The international community is not a
class of primary school pupils to be lectured in this way by an incompetent
teacher. Were this the case, Colin Powell would be the one to have a donkey'
s tail pinned to his trousers when he turned around to illustrate his great
case against Iraq.
If people believe this report, they will believe that there are fairies at
the end of the garden. Colin Powell has managed to allow himself and his
image descend from a respected world-class diplomat to some sort of
confused, rambling and unconvincing Peter Pan.
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