I don't read Jane's. I am not an airfix kid. And yet I knew instantly that Tony Blair's claim that Saddam could deploy WMD to strike at British interests within 45 minutes was false.
How did I know? I used this simple test:
Do I recall ever having read a front-page headline announcing that Iraq had tested a nuclear bomb?
So they can't be nuke-ready, because you can't hide that sort of thing; when it happens, everyone knows it.
And they had no delivery systems. And even if they'd never destroyed their stocks of biological and chemical weapons, they were past their sell-by date. And even if they hadn't been past their sell-by date, they had no way to use them against Britain or even Cyprus as a means of mass killing.
So it was obviously not true.
And here is my problem: How could Tony Blair not know this? He's the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, it's the sort of thing he really, really ought to know. Or he is way too stupid for the job.
On the other side of the water, opinion is divided on whether George W. Bush was out of the loop on this. No one really believes he has the sharps to put 1+1 together, and he says he doesn't read the papers, so maybe he actually didn't know.
But now even right-wing Fox personality Bill O'Reilly has admitted that there are no WMDs.
Two years ago I expressed bafflement at the sudden interest even sensible people seemed to have in "protecting" ourselves from Saddam Hussein. I was told Iraq had weapons of mass destruction ready to deploy against us - something that obviously wasn't true. I was told that we needed to liberate Iraqi women from a sexist society - a thought that sounds nice, but it seemed very odd given that women in Iraq were already a great deal more free than women in Saudi Arabia. I was told that Saddam was chummy with Osama bin Laden - an obvious lie, since the two of them hated each other. I was told it was part of our "war on terror" against Islamist extremists, even though Saddam was running a secular state (and Saudi Arabia is not).
And I warned that war could make life worse for the Iraqi people, that invasion risked their lives and their infrastructure, that tearing down the secular government actually endangered the rights of Iraqi women and made it more likely that strong-men, warlords, and religious extremists would take over the country.
I was right. Thousands of people are dead, women are afraid to go out and live their normal lives, and people are still having trouble getting water.
I want an apology from all of those people who called me a fruitcake. I want an apology from all of those people who think you need to "hate Bush" to have seen these things.
This was not a humanitarian war. It was insanity.
[This article was originally published on 18 February 2004 at DailyNewsOnline.]