Clark denies milk for blood

December 22nd, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Former Prime Minister has angrily denied a claim in a United States diplomatic cable that the previous Labour-led Government sent New Zealand non-combat engineers to so that dairy company Fonterra could secure a United Nations contract.

She described the claim as preposterous.

So why did Helen send tropps to Iraq, if it were not to help Fonterra?

Mr Goff yesterday said the allegation was ridiculous.

“No such trade-off was ever suggested and if it ever had been, it would have been rejected out-of-hand. We do not trade putting the lives of our military personnel at risk for commercial deals. It is a completely false claim.”

What is interesting is that Michael Cullen has not denied that he did talk about the risk to Fonterra.

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71 Responses to “Clark denies milk for blood”

  1. lastmanstanding (1,154 comments) says:

    Wikileaks

    the gift that keeps on giving

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  2. James Stephenson (1,885 comments) says:

    Methinks the “lady” doth protest too much.

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  3. alex Masterley (1,438 comments) says:

    Ms Clark having said something regarding this issue it will now snowball out of all proportion.
    A terse no comment would have been sufficient, but no…

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  4. Bryce Edwards (248 comments) says:

    Stories and analysis of the Kiwi Wikileaks (or “Kiwileaks”) keep coming. I keep updating my blog post with further links to stories. See:

    http://liberation.typepad.com/liberation/2010/12/wikileaks-the-nz-related-cables.html

    The lastest links include:

    Radio NZ: Nine to Noon discussion
    http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/ntn/ntn-20101222-0908-WikiLeaks_cables-048.mp3

    NZ Herald: WikiLeaks a quid pro quo for Phil Goff
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10695861

    Guardian: US embassy cables: New Zealand uncomfortable with Hamas praise
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/18833

    Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Lamb sales behind New Zealand’s ‘flap’ with Israel
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/21/wikileaks-cables-lamb-new-zealand-israel

    Guardian: US embassy cables: US anger over Fahrenheit 9/11 screening at New Zealand Labour Party fundraiser
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/19257

    Guardian: US embassy cables: New Zealand PM suspected passport fraud pair were ‘Israeli intelligence agents’
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/18784

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  5. Pete George (21,798 comments) says:

    Bryce, it’s all very interesting, but how accurate do you think the cables are?

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  6. big bruv (12,327 comments) says:

    Klark does seem determined to protect her “legacy”, it seems she will go to any lengths to do so.

    Anybody this determined to rewrite history obviously feels that she has unfinished business in NZ.

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  7. ben (2,385 comments) says:

    I would be shocked if, on the long lists of advantages and disadvantages of going into Iraq prepared before the decision was made that this, access to the UN contract, was not among the many items in the advantages column. On what basis does one go to war if it is not based on consideration of the full set of costs and benefits to the country?

    So Clark is probably lying, methinks. The problem here, IMHO, is not that a contract for Fonterra was among the benefits identified of going into Iraq, but in the framing of the issue now: picking that one item out in isolation is dreadfully unfair and puts Clark in the position of either admitting it was considered, or denying it by lying. Tough call.

    Not that Helen Clark is in any way deserving of fairness after the damage her government inflicted on the country: but this story looks like it’s made wholly out of narrow context rather than substance.

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  8. Bryce Edwards (248 comments) says:

    Pete George – I have no insight into the accuracy of the cables. Obviously they are just one version of reality, and certainly not gospel. But I’m sure that the US Government would want the billions that they spend on diplomatic missions to yield some fairly accurate intelligence and analysis.

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  9. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    Yup. Narrow and out of context. The thing is, it looks exactly like many of the beat ups that the left are fond of creating against the right. And the denials look exactly the same as well. You know, things like funding from insurance companies that keep getting brought up, including by people who should know better like MPs. Sorry, I can’t drum up any sympathy – live by the sword, die by the sword.

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  10. GPT1 (2,042 comments) says:

    Fran Wilde has an excellent column on this comparing Goff’s indignation over this revelation with his glee at releasing “gone by lunch time” MFAT notes. Clark’s arrogance is stunning as well – apparently she is too important to be leaked about.

    Frankly I don’t give a toss that Fonterra’s position was discussed in relation to the deployment. In fact it stands the last government in a better light than I would have thought but lay of the holier than thou hypocrisy when National is making similarly significant foreign affairs decisions.

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  11. Bryce Edwards (248 comments) says:

    GPT1 probably means “Fran O’Sullivan” rather than “Fran Wilde”. The link to her column is here:

    NZ Herald: WikiLeaks a quid pro quo for Phil Goff
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10695861

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  12. jaba (2,068 comments) says:

    Clark deines Clark denies Clark denies .. not much has changed I see

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  13. Chris2 (703 comments) says:

    Even when Saddam was in power Fonterra were sending their product to Vietnam, where it was then secretly on-shipped to Iraq,

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  14. GPT1 (2,042 comments) says:

    GPT1 probably means “Fran O’Sullivan” rather than “Fran Wilde”. The link to her column is here:
    Yes, yes I do. Christmas brain!

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  15. alex Masterley (1,438 comments) says:

    Just thinking about it, if the cables are wrong as Ms Clark suggests, shouldn’t she sue for defamation instead of squealing like a demented banshee.

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  16. 3-coil (1,184 comments) says:

    This is the same Helen Clark who spent her last year as Prime Minister lying to cover up the lies of her Foreign Minister Winston Peters…same reaction when she was caught out with that one.

    She’s lied through her crooked teeth for the whole of her political career – the revelations in these diplomatic cables are just further proof.

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  17. Murray (8,835 comments) says:

    Engineers are NOT non-combat. They are one of the teeth arms are operated armed. their role was non-agressive by vitue of not seekign to engage the enemy, however they were very much in a combat environment.

    This bullshit free pass given to Clark by the media and supported by bloody ignotant civlians is joke. Helen Clark put more kiwi troops into combat than any other PM since WWII. EOS.

    If we got trade out of it then good bloody work I say.

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  18. tom hunter (3,999 comments) says:

    In light of these cable examples:

    A. – Clark plays down good US relations

    “We further note that PM Clark is apparently much more willing to highlight her excellent relations with President Bush when speaking to an Australian audience than to domestic Kiwi audiences

    B – screening Fahrenheit 9/11 at a Labour fundraiser.

    There’s a reason this particular Minister is nicknamed “Boo Boo” Hobbs. That said, it is probable that this potential fiasco may only have been averted because of our phone calls – it is apparent to us that neither the Minister nor anyone else in the Labour government seems to have thought there was anything wrong with a senior Minister hosting such an event.

    I could not help thinking of these comments here on Kiwiblog a few days ago:

    “Then why does Labour label or imply ANY National association with the US as bad. “
    They don’t.

    “There is a deep seated dislike in them of the US.”
    Nothing you have said backs up that statement, you have only pointed out a couple of minor political posturings.

    The US leaked cables contradict your claim. The Labour government worked extensively with the US government for nine years. The current NZ ambassador in the US is Mike Moore.

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  19. davidp (3,319 comments) says:

    >Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has angrily denied a claim in a United States diplomatic cable that the previous Labour-led Government sent New Zealand non-combat engineers to Iraq so that dairy company Fonterra could secure a United Nations contract.

    Do UN staff have the sort of diplomatic immunity that would shield them from a war crimes trial? What about from civil action if an Iraqi decided to sue her?

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  20. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    You Right Wing Whingers never cease to amaze me.

    You were totally and utterly suckered in by Bush, yelling we had to launch war in Iraq for an ever changing litany of lies, not one of which had a single thing to do with the safety, security or propserity of NZ – all had to do with assuming the usual position and being arse fucked by the Yankees.

    Now there is a hint that the government of the time may have acted with an economic (shock HORROR!) motive you fall all over yourselves to clamour that preserving the nation’s economy is not something the Right would ever do.

    So, remind me agin why you Right Wing Arsewipes thought war in Iraq was a good thing.

    meanwhile, I’ll remind you that those of us on the true left opposed this war from the get go, for reasons or morality and principle, something Right Wing Arsweipes don’t understand,as morality and principle can’t be bought and sold.

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  21. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    MNIJ: you really are a tool aren’t you.
    1. “those of us on the true left” v’s “Right Wing Arsewipes”. Nice division of the world.
    2. Ever changing litany of lies. You mean like the fact that everyone in the intelligence agencies of the western world though that Hussein had a weapons programme that was producing WMD?
    3. “clamour that preserving the nation’s economy is not something the Right would do”. haven’t seen that, just seen a lot of people pissing themselves laughing that the left have been caught doing exactly what they always claim the right do. The right are generally better at real politic, and don’t have much problem with access for Fonterra being one (albeit minor) consideration in going to war. It is the left that end up with the hypocrisy and evidence that all their holier than thou posturing has been a fiction

    I fully supported the war in Iraq, I still believe it was the right thing to do at the time. It was appalling executed by a president and national security team that had more of an eye on domestic politics than a view of what it took to run the war. I probably should have taken incompetence into account when I personally decided that it was the right thing to do, and discounted my view of likely success. Having said that, the Iraqis today are far better off than they were under Hussein.

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  22. GPT1 (2,042 comments) says:

    No MNIJ you are, unsurprisingly, missing the point which, just to be clear, is that Labour wanked on and on about how good they were for staying out of the Iraq war and not putting NZ troops in harms way for trade or oil and that the evil Nats would have and will do when it is quite clear that they took into account trade issues when they deployed to Iraq.

    This is not about the rights or wrong of the Iraq war as much as you might like it to be it is about Labour being exposed for being a bunch of hypocrites. Your support for such hypocrisy rather undermines your self- ggrandising claims of morality and principle.

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  23. Jimbob (639 comments) says:

    Michael Cullen happens to have a very cushy Govt. appointed job and he didn’t come down in the last shower.
    It seems Helen has been the first to crack.

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  24. rwebb (2 comments) says:

    This just shows the paradigm that the US Government operates from.

    They would find it difficult to believe that commerical inetrests were not a major factor in these sorts of adventures, as they are almost the entire point for them.

    Clark just complied with an unwelcome United Nations resolution, in a way which did not compromise the principles of the Governement too much.

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  25. BeaB (1,945 comments) says:

    I thought I’d had a stroke this morning when I was woken by Helen’s horrible voice on National Radio. And that awful dismissive laugh she and Anderton do when they are having a go at everyone else.

    But great Labour spin – everything the leaks say about Key and the Nats is 100% accurate; everything about Clark, Goff and Labour is 100% wrong.

    What a world they live in!

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  26. tom hunter (3,999 comments) says:

    meanwhile, I’ll remind you that those of us on the true left opposed this war from the get go, for reasons or morality and principle, something Right Wing Arsweipes don’t understand,as morality and principle can’t be bought and sold.

    The key phrase is ..on the true left…, which is code for The Left That Does No Wrong.

    Of course back in the early 1990′s all the left-wingers I knew were both opposed to the first Gulf War – and then also highly critical of Bush 41 not going down the highway of death into Baghdad to take out Saddam. I think their whole attitude was best summed up by this piece by Dr Eric Herring (University of Bristol):

    They have no desire for the Shiite majority to take control or for the Kurds to achieve independence. Their policy is to keep them strong enough to cause trouble for Saddam Hussein while ensuring that Saddam Hussein is strong enough to keep repressing them. This is not a new policy. It is a direct descendant of British imperial policy from World War One onwards.

    Britain controlled Iraqi oil wealth through Sunni minority monarchs who put down rebellions by the Kurdish minority and the Shiite majority. When those Sunni minority monarchs became too nationalist and too powerful, Britain fuelled Kurdish and Shiite opposition just far enough to rein in the monarch but not far enough for the opposition to actually win.

    Divide and rule was, and is, the policy.

    As you can imagine, all this principled and moral disgust with Bush 41 not taking out Saddam – not to mention the numerous statements by Clinton and fellow Democrats through the 1990′s and up to 2003 about the threats of Saddam’s WMD, and the Iraq Liberation Act signed into law by Clinton – led me to believe that the principled and moral left would be overjoyed at the idea of a US President, even a Republican, finally being willing to take out Saddam.

    However I have learned my lesson: never again will I take any notice of any left-winger who tells me how principled and moral they are.

    In any case, the real point here is that the True Left of several years ago were the likes of Helen Clark (aside from what communists and anarchists thought of her) making implied, sly, little comments that fully accorded with MNIJ’s points – while at the same time doing exactly what they accused a GOP president of doing – risking the lives of soldiers for a dollar.

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  27. ch123 (460 comments) says:

    As one of the “Right Wing Arsewipes” to which you refer, I never thought the invasion of Iraq was a good idea at the time. I distinctly remember arguing about it with my father-in-law about a month before it happened when we were in the USA for a wedding. I didn’t think the USA should invade because I thought the reasoning for it was wrong, which of course it turned out to be.

    If they simply admitted that they wanted to invade because Saddam was a bad man and wanted control over oil and that Dubya wanted to finish off what his father didn’t, then at least they would have been a bit more honest.

    But as other people here far more eloquently than I can write have pointed out, this isn’t whether invading Iraq was good or bad, it’s about the complete and utter hypocrisy of the previous Labour Government. I’m sure we will also see the same of our current National Government because that just seems to be the way politics worse, although those on the left seem to be far better at hypocrisy.

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  28. Murray (8,835 comments) says:

    Actually jackoff it was Clark who was suckered by bush if thats your claim. Shes the one who put troops in, not a national government. And as I said good fucking job. So add hypocracy to your leftwing asswipe rant.

    Dickhead.

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  29. lastmanstanding (1,154 comments) says:

    Mind you its times like this when you realise we of the RIGHT dont have the old bag around to kick the hell out of and poke fun at.

    Its just not the same. Almost boring having the most popular PM and Party of all time.

    Now I remember the LEFT telling us the honeymoon would be over inside the first quarter of 09.

    Long time between drinks you lot

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  30. Rick Rowling (776 comments) says:

    Are we all being a bit keen to take every one of these cables as an accurate reflection of the truth, and not just the opinion of some junior diplomat who’s trying to prove what a clever insight he has into the workings of power?

    /no lover of the previous Labour gov’t

    //not just talking about this particular cable, but the cables in general

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  31. RRM (8,988 comments) says:

    Boo!

    Helen Clark!

    Hiss!

    Oh, the hypocrisy of the left!

    What cancelled tax cuts?

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  32. rwebb (2 comments) says:

    Really Murray?

    You’d put your life on the line so a few wealthy executives can make a buck?

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  33. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    ch123: Understand your position. I have a problem with the suggestion that the Iraq war was about control of oil. The thing is, if we’d dropped sanctions on Iraq they would have sold us all the oil we wanted and more. Whereas with the war it was largely Russian and European countries who got control of the oil. So it’d have to be the most expensive way imaginable to achieve half the result that could have been achieved by just dropping sanctions.

    For that reason, I fully disbelieve the simplistic propaganda about why America went to war. My personal belief is that Bush got caught out with 9/11. The day after, he pulled his security advisors in and said “what else anywhere in the world could go wrong, and how do I prevent it from happening.” They told him that Iraq was a clear danger that could blow up on him and kill Americans, and he said “what will it take to remove that risk”. I believe that to have been the rationale.

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  34. scrubone (2,971 comments) says:

    I just love it how Helen is so keen to tell us all that there was no blood for milk. Instead she insists from her New York office, we were very careful to follow the UN.

    Well, clearly no payoffs to be seen there!

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  35. Pete George (21,798 comments) says:

    I’ve raised that as well Rick, no one seems too worried about it, Bryce gave his take here. I sort of understand them wanting value for money (not that the US bureaucracy is renowned for that) but that far from guarantees accuracy or eliminates the possibility of agendas.

    The leaks seem to have become political footballs, grab whatever colour you like and kick the shit out of it. I think we are moving to the stage where there wil be three categories of cables:
    1) ignored as uninteresting
    2) “the right” claims they condemn “the left” while “the left” disputes their accuracy
    2) “the left” claims they condemn “the right” while “the right” disputes their accuracy

    I wonder if this will carry on or just fizzle over the break.

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  36. Paulus (2,292 comments) says:

    Listening to Helen Clark talking with a nothingness Irish ??interviewer this morning.
    She should learn that when you are in the s..t stop digging.

    I expected more of HC than to appear with this incompetent ignorant interviewer. I suppose it was so that HC could wipe the floor with her easily, which she did, but to actually appear?

    Seems stupid tactics to me. Not up to her usual standard.

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  37. Puzzled in Ekatahuna (329 comments) says:

    “US diplomats disparaged New Zealand’s reaction to a suspected Israeli spy ring as a “flap” and accused New Zealand’s government of grandstanding in order to sell more lamb to Arab countries, according to leaked cables.”

    Yes, well breaking off diplomatic relations with Israel and making comments which inspired fringe loonies to deface Jewish gravestones did seem a little extreme at the time as Helen Clark threw her weight around a bit, especially after the internal scene frustrated her at the time.
    Maybe makes a little more sense now – lamb sales for kicking the Jews, like blood for milk?

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  38. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    MyBrainOnCrack – “the true left” – i.e. the unelectable jurassic communists and their useful idiots who never have to worry about what they’d have to do in power in the real world, because they never will be in power in the real world, since being thrown on the rubbish heap of history 20 years ago.

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  39. cha (3,529 comments) says:

    Listening to Helen Clark talking with a nothingness Irish ??interviewer this morning.

    Ryan, Irish?. Oh, I know, you heard Ryan advertising next weeks interview with Clark so you made something up.

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  40. YesWeDid (1,002 comments) says:

    @PaulL ‘You mean like the fact that everyone in the intelligence agencies of the western world though that Hussein had a weapons program that was producing WMD?’

    Everyone expect for the UN inspectors on the ground, but I guess they don’t count.

    I think Ben at 11:25am has it right, I am sure Clark and Co discussed the possible economic effects of NZ’s involvement in the war in Iraq as part of a long list of pro’s and con’s but it is hard to see how a possible Fonterra contract was the primary reason or motivation.

    Anyway Key was keen to send troops to help get a free trade agreement with the US so I fail to see how National would have not done the same thing or even committed more troops for economic reasons.

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  41. ch123 (460 comments) says:

    @PaulL It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Dubya truly believed there were WMDs in Iraq because that’s what his advisors were feeding him. However the UN inspectors failed to find anything and IIRC Hans Blick resigned because he wasn’t being listened to.

    Even if there had been WMDs I still fail to understand why that gave them a pretext for war, other than the Americans’ belief they need to protect Israel. Saddam Hussein was a bad man but he wasn’t threatening anyone.

    I had an Iraqi friend who had lived there during the first war and they got out before the second one. He didn’t like Saddam at all, but unfortunately I never actually quizzed him at the time (or don’t recall his thoughts) to see what he thought about the Americans invading.

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  42. emmess (1,333 comments) says:

    Clark denies ‘Milk for Blood’ is a bit like ‘I’m not a witch’

    Problem for her is though, no one in their right mind would have believed her if she had said that either.

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  43. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,667 comments) says:

    That awful sound on Nat Radio today will do much to remind people why they threw Labour out. Sorry about that, Phil.

    The little breathless laugh as she speaks is the dead give away. That’s when she’s lying in overdrive.

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  44. niggly (779 comments) says:

    I’m glad you mentioned that “laugh”, as I heard it too on RNZ after 9am.

    The more HC was quizzed by the presenter, the more she chuckled as if to … what exactly …. demonstrate she was being friendly or brushing off the “accusations”?

    Is there anyone out there who understands human reactions/psychology and can explain HC’s chuckled laughter as in is it genuine or a mask (or as Adolf says, “lying in overdrive”)?

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  45. niggly (779 comments) says:

    Here’s the URL
    http://static.radionz.net.nz/assets/audio_item/0010/2449351/ntn-20101222-0908-WikiLeaks_cables-m048.asx

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  46. ch123 (460 comments) says:

    I seem to recall than Brian Edwards coached her into the laugh. Something about giving her the time to pause and think before she answers the question. Although I could be completely wrong about this.

    It doesn’t work at all well though because it just makes her sound like an arrogant bitch laughing everything off and thinking that’s she knows better than everyone else.

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  47. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    @ YesWeDid:

    Everyone expect for the UN inspectors on the ground, but I guess they don’t count.

    I wasn’t aware that the UN Inspectors all worked for western intelligence agencies. Although it’s certainly possible. :-)

    I don’t see anyone suggesting that Key (or Brash as it would have been) would have done any differently. Just that the left were all high and mighty about how they had principles and would never even consider money, but same as any government, they did. I fully agree it would have been a minor input – someone noted it in a briefing report but it wasn’t the decider. Same as it would have been if we had a right wing government. But the left would have paraded all over this if it had been a right wing government, and the schadenfreude I’m getting from this is kind of funny.

    @ch123. My view is that Bush went paranoid, he didn’t want another disaster like 9/11 on his watch. He encouraged his advisers to tell him about every risk, and treated them as if a 5% risk was going to turn into a problem tomorrow. They will have told him that there were stories Hussein had WMD, and that if that proved to be true, and if he were so stupid as to give them to terrorists, it would be a disaster. Which is all true. They will probably have said it’s about 50/50 that he has them or is getting them, and about 20% likely that he’d give them to terrorists. Given knowledge at the time, it made sense:
    – he wouldn’t allow inspectors and kept hiding stuff. Why would you do that unless you had something to hide. (the fact he was just a nutjob who didn’t like the violation of privacy didn’t get much of a run)
    – he was a nutjob, and noone could predict who he might give/sell weapons to, even though the links between him and terrorists were pretty tenuous.

    I think Bush decided he didn’t want to take that risk – essentially “not on my watch.” He escalated pressure on Saddam, and didn’t get capitulation. He decided that was because there was something to hide, and he went to war. At the time, my analysis was the same – and I agreed with the war. With hindsight, my views are a bit more nuanced, but I would still have gone to war, just with a bit better transition/reconstruction plan.

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  48. Pete George (21,798 comments) says:

    Paul, you may be close to the mark with your reasoning on why GW went to war #2 – but on those sort of odds how many countries would fit the criteria for a pre-emptive invasion? For example, why doesn’t the US invade Pakistan? Or N Korea?

    There must have been other reasons beyond those criteria you give. Picking the most convenient fall guy, who already had UN resolutions conveniently in place?

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  49. ch123 (460 comments) says:

    @PaulL Interesting viewpoint and I can see where you are coming from. However using that sort of justification then the USA should be invading a heap of other countries too. I still don’t think the war was justified but… if Iraq can pull itself out of the mess the USA made for it, it’s probably going to be the better for it in the long term. The main issue with Iraq though is it’s not really one country, it’s more like two or three, based on geography and ethnic lines. Another messy remnant from mother Britain.

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  50. ch123 (460 comments) says:

    @Pete George or Iran

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  51. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    @ch123: yes, using that criteria they would have invaded lots of places. And did. They wanted to invade North Korea, but with the Chinese on the border, and likelihood they already had nuclear weapons, it was too risky. Without those two factors, I think they would have invaded there as well. Remember the axis of evil?

    I do think that US foreign policy during that period was driven entirely through the lens of 9/11. The reality was that the American people wanted a president who would guarantee that wouldn’t happen again, and were prepared to do pretty much anything to achieve that. It’s hard to underestimate how much that one event change the outlook of Americans on the world. Bush I think drove his foreign policy through that domestic imperative, but somewhat constrained by what was physically possible. Afghanistan was obvious, they were complicit in 9/11. Iraq wasn’t, but it was close, Bush I had already been there, there were security council resolutions in place. Bush II wanted the risk gone, and wanted to look tough on the domestic stage. He also, in my opinion, firmly believed that what he was doing was the right thing – God’s work in the shorthand of those who think he was a puppet, a bit more nuanced but still the same concept for those who give him a bit more credit.

    I guess the question here is whether, if you were US President at that time, and you could see that a man who was clearly insane, had made many threats against the US, was killing his own people, and potentially was getting a nuclear device or other WMD that was capable of killing a whole city of Americans instead of 2 buildings worth…. what would you have done? Take the risk? Or listen to the hawks? These decisions aren’t as simple as they seem, and at that time the Americans had suddenly realised that they weren’t safe on their own soil – something the Europeans had come to terms with 10-20 years earlier.

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  52. Pete George (21,798 comments) says:

    Sounds reasonable Paul, but what about Pakistan? Just as handy to Afghanistan, far more complicit with terrorism, already had nukes. Still a major risk.

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  53. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    Pete: agree. But, at the time, Pakistan were acting sort of like a friend – at the headline level at least. They were assisting in the war on Afghanistan I think, and as you say, they had nukes. Attacking Pakistan would also have destabilised the region in terms of India – I think the US at the time liked to see Pakistan as a counterbalance to India.

    I also think it may have been a priority thing – Iran would have been ahead of Pakistan in the list, but the military couldn’t stretch that far. The axis of evil speech I think was pointing at who was next on the list, and the plan was to wrap up Afghanistan and Iraq quickly, install democracies, show everyone how great the world could be, and move on to the next two. Or something along those lines.

    I’m guessing a lot with this, I feel more comfortable with my analysis of why Iraq. My point is that just because they didn’t invade Iran, North Korea and Pakistan doesn’t undermine my thesis, it just means we need some plausible reason as to why Iraq was first on the list. I think there are enough reasons, and definitely one of them was that the US cares more about the gulf (source of oil and therefore strategic) than about east asia (which really has only lots of people and not much else of strategic significance) or the Korean peninsula (which is mostly a historical alliance that they don’t want to give up on, and strategic containment of China which at the time wasn’t a priority).

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  54. ch123 (460 comments) says:

    @PaulL, For what it’s worth, I think you are dead on the mark. I’ll also add that I think the USA would love to invade Iran but it would be far far messier than Iraq and they don’t dare do it. Also the American public has lost what little interest they had in world affairs which were a direct result of 9/11, I guess because now it happened so long ago and there doesn’t seem to be any real threat any more.

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  55. ch123 (460 comments) says:

    Oh one last thing I’ll add… I think the Americans assumed they would be able to easily invade Iraq and take over and that the general populace would embrace the foreign invaders and democracy, and that it would be over nice and quick like. Although the first bit happened more or less to plan the rest didn’t work out so well. They may well have then attempted to invade other countries if it had all gone to plan. Although I’m sure they would have had an even harder time coming up with a pretext for other countries.

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  56. Pete George (21,798 comments) says:

    ch – I think Bush #1 had shown them it should be an easy invasion, I think that may have been a major consideration in choosing the target. But yes, they stuffed up the welcome as heroes part and lost the plot thereafter.

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  57. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    Pete/CH: agree. The invasion went to plan, but then came apart after the “victory” because of:
    – some poor decisions (admittedly perhaps poor in hindsight only) to gut a number of Iraqi institutions due to links of senior people to the previous regime
    – understaffing so as to contain costs and respond to domestic pressure – more feet on the ground in the early days would have made a difference
    – lack of understanding of what it takes to reconstruct, and very slow to put much of that on the ground
    – too risk averse in putting troops in harm’s way – not enough engagement with the local population early enough, which made a breeding ground for rebellion
    – not enough troops who spoke the language, and not enough sympathy to the local population. They do and have forced indignities on the locals in the name of safety for their troops, and that in turn has made things less safe for their troops

    To be fair, I didn’t forsee those problems either. But then, I don’t run the most powerful country in the world. :-)

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  58. Johnboy (13,342 comments) says:

    Of course the Yanks should never have invaded Iraq. They only did it because at heart they are real humanitarians.

    They should have nuked the fuck out of the whole benighted place and waited till the radiation dropped to safer levels before moving in to secure the oil.

    Lets face it they are the only country in the world that has the technology to do that and it would have put the fear of Allah up all the other camel rooters who think the have the west by the balls.

    Collateral benefit would have been enjoying watching Locke and Co have coronary attacks on our apology for Pravda TV.

    Putin would have taken a really deep breath and got on with his extracurricular shagging instead of getting illusions he is Putin The Great. :)

    The Chinks would be quietly eating their noodles and telling Kim whatever to pull his head in.

    Gas would be 50c/litre and dropping.

    Sarkozy would be shooting Islamic’s IN the mosques let alone the street and no one would even notice.

    The Irish economy would be rebounding at an enormous rate when Seamus O’Toole patented his process to convert peat into oil to take up the shortfall in world supplies till the Iraqi stuff stopped glowing in the dark.

    The possibilities were boundless.

    It just needed a POTUS with balls.

    Someone who could shoot a bear at ten paces with an cap gun, or gut a walrus with a blunt toothbrush, or look good on TV.

    Shit. Hang on a minute. :)

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  59. tom hunter (3,999 comments) says:

    Darn – a reasonable discussion on Iraq for once. Too bad I was playing with the kids.

    There is one aspect of why Iraq was chosen that should be considered – if we’re having a reasonable discussion. Another day perhaps.

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  60. Guy Fawkes (702 comments) says:

    Herr Klark. The evil Bitch with the Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

    A known Lesbian living with an effete man as cover.

    Bought her job (sinecure, and ably assisted by Gay Gordon Brown) with our money at UNDP.

    The woman can’t get over her dismissal as PM in the worst possible circumstances as the whole country went Blue and rejected her haughty ineffective, and spendthrift policies.

    She/He was a disaster and we cannot contemplate its return to these shores. She is still covering up multiple criminal acts by herself and her Cabal.

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  61. kiwi in america (2,330 comments) says:

    An excellent book on the reasons for the war in Iraq was written by Bush Admin insider Asst Sec of Defence Douglas Feith called “War and Decision”. This is a true fly on the wall memoir written during all the major deliberations of the war. It puts the left’s “Bush lied and people died” meme to rest. Saddam Hussein had attacked 5 of his neighbours (8 yr long war with Iraq-1m+ casualties and $1 trillion cost, Kuwait invasion – 1st Gulf War costing $65b, missiles launched at Israel, Saudi and Qatar 300 injured 3 killed, attacks on the Kurds -100,000 killed and 500,000 refugees and attempted extermination of the Marsh Arabs). He had already used WMD (mustard gas attacks in Iraq war killing 20,000 and maiming 90,000 more, sarin/VX/mustard/tubin attacks on the Kurds killing 5,000 injuring 10,000 and then the nuclear programme being developed at Osirak until destroyed by the Israelis in June 1981.)

    Human Rights Watch estimate that Hussein’s regime killed 800,000 Iraqi civilians from 1979 to 2003.

    Saddam Hussein had proven himself uninterested in abiding by the requirements imposed on him after the 1st Gulf War. By the the time of the coalition invasion in 2003 he was in breach of SIXTEEN material UNSC resolutions. He had shown willingness to circumvent sanctions via the Oil for Food Programme diverting some $500 million in illegal oil sales a portion of which was used to bribe Russian, French and Chinese UN officials to lift the sanctions.

    The pre war consensus that Hussein had WMD was broad and international. A panoply of key Democrats including all major Clinton Adminstration officials went on the public record not only supporting regime change but citing possession of WMDs as one of the reasons for regime change. Ditto Democrat Senators such as Daschle, Kerry and Levin and even Nancy Pelosi. The worlds 6 top intelligence agencies all came to the same independent conclusions that he had WMD (CIA, MI6, Russia’s SVK, Germany’s BND and France’s DGSE). Several of these countries still opposed the war and yet their external security intelligence agencies believed that he had WMD. Being in possession of faulty intelligence and acting on it is not going to war over a lie. When the conduct of the war was less than successful in the early part of the war it was easy for the various Democrats who supported the war (and the various premises for the war) to make political capital by reversing their position. Most of them were previously as convinced as Bush and his administration officials on the intelligence. People on the left forget the extent of the consensus that had been building for a decade as to how best to handle Hussein.

    The Iraq Survey Group DID find WMD just not the stockpiles of WMD that was expected. But stockpiles of WMD are only part of a functioning programme. You need the personnel (which he had), the know how and desire to use (already proven with prior multiple uses of WMD) – all he apparently lacked was the stockpiles he needed for a meaningful programme and he was working hard to end the sanctions so as to obtain more of what he needed. The existence of PROGRAMMES is more important than stockpiles. The post-war search was unable to unearth any substantial stockpiles but the Iraq biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programmes remained active and were easy to reactivate.

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  62. Johnboy (13,342 comments) says:

    Wasting your time KIA.

    Repeat after me: “Bush bad Saddam good”. “Yankee bad Islam good”.

    Say that a hundred times until you get sick of trying to write the truth. :)

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  63. reid (15,513 comments) says:

    The Iraq Survey Group DID find WMD

    The precise point KIA is: how much?

    Cause if it was enuf to justify the invasion causalities on all sides, then it must have been heaps. So the military clearly did a lousy job proclaiming their victory in this particular war for they saved the world for there were, really, lots and lots of WMDs. Is that basically it or is there actual evidence of the media refusal to publicise said WMDs?

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  64. nadir (94 comments) says:

    kia

    I wouldnt rely on Feiths memoirs. His history is interesting – he’s spent as much time lobbying for Israel as he has for the US. Nothing wrong with that but he is clearly and publicly of the “strengthen the Israeli/US relationship at all costs” camp. And his advice/commentary on Iraq should be viewed from that. From memory he was also found by the DOD to have knowingly falsified/exaggerated WMD evidence in Iraq, as well as inventing the al Quaeda/Irag special relationship. He was in charge of the Office of Special Plans(?) the alternative intelligence analysis group set up by Cheney and Rumsfeld which provided analysis completely at odds with the CIA and other US agencies.

    He is hardly a non-partisan commentator.

    In my view the strategy devised by GHWB was correct, containment. Saddam never had the ability to strike meaningfully outside their borders and not be turned into a glassy desert within an hour of attacking Israel or the US with WMD. The GWB invasion was imo predicated on several faulty ideas, 1. GWB wanted to outdo Daddy, finish the job, get the guy who tried to kill my Pa, 2. He was advised by Feith and other neo-cons on the back of cool-aid peddled by Chalabi and co that the Iraqis would rise up, overthrow Saddam and welcome the Americans as conquering heros, and 3. a compliant Iraq would act as a counterweight to Iran – the real menace in the Middle East.

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  65. nadir (94 comments) says:

    But I also accept your point that the West generally started from a point of view that Saddam had a chemical weapons capability or at least an ability to create one. After all the US, Germany, France, UK and Russia had all facilitated the attainment of that technology by Iraq back in the 1970′s and 1980′s. There was a lot of “Pesticide”, “Fertiliser”, “Medical Technology” business with a lot of US and German corporates going on back then………

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  66. ephemera (563 comments) says:

    @Bryce Edwards

    “But I’m sure that the US Government would want the billions that they spend on diplomatic missions to yield some fairly accurate intelligence and analysis.”

    Given that the Iraq war was declared on tenuous, anecdotal, cherry-picked evidence of WMDs, one might argue that self-delusion plays a large role in American foreign policy. Regardless of whatever billions there are to go around.

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  67. Andrew Bannister (213 comments) says:

    “What is interesting is that Michael Cullen has not denied that he did talk about the risk to Fonterra.

    No, neither has John Key – hhmmm, interesting

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  68. kiwi in america (2,330 comments) says:

    nadir
    I agree Feith is a partisan but he’s the only true insider to write about the war. The rest are mostly journos or anti war partisans.

    reid
    My point is that WMDs were not and never the sole purpose for regime change – it was the package deal of resgional threats and his proven propensity to attack his important neighbours and the fact that for year there was a bi partican desire to oust him from power. He HAD used WMD several times and used every strategem including trying hard to evade various inspection regimes to acquire whatever he lost. I repeat – a WMD programme is a combination of personnel, equipment, raw material or stockpiles and the operational priority to use them. Husein had 3 of the 4 and was actively undermining the sanctions to acquire that which he did not have in sufficient quantities of.

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  69. Pete George (21,798 comments) says:

    I agree the Feith gives a useful insider account, albeit a one side view.

    it was the package deal of regional threats and his proven propensity to attack his important neighbours

    This highlights he was a known regional threat. One of the big selling points to invading was that he was a much wider immediate threat, eg Tony Blair and the 45 minute claim. There is little to suggest he was capable of or wanted to attack the US.

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  70. kiwi in america (2,330 comments) says:

    Peter George
    In the context of the immediate post 9/11 world (which was the psychological environment the decision to go to war was made) the known risks about Hussein that had led even the Clinton Administration to support regime change. 9/11 gave dramatic new urgency to the US and all the various threats that I outlined. One vital piece in this puzzle I missed cames from the translated archives of the Iraqi Security Service accessed after the war (via the Institute of Defense Analysis Iraqi Perspectives Project Vol 1 (Alexandria, VA 2006) 1 p27 http://www.fas.org/irp/eprint/iraqi/index.html) that details the list of Islamic terrorists who had visited the Iraqi regime over the years before the invasion and includes
    • Abu Nidal the Palestinian terrorist most famous for bombing the ticket counters at Rome and Vienna airports.
    • Abu Abbas – Achille Lauro cruiseliner hijacker and killer of US retiree Leon Klinghoffer
    • Abu Musab al-Zarqawi – leader of al Qaida in Iraq
    • Leaders of the PKK, Palestine Liberation Front, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Arab Liberation.

    Hussein’s conduct with respect to weapons inspectors (and thus his blatant breaches of UNSC Resolutions 660, 661, 678, 679, 686, 687,688, 707, 715, 986, 1284, 1373 and 1441) became the immediate casus belli. The decision to go to war was be sen in the light of ALL of the circumstances I site not just the issue of WMD. Because there were no definitive stockpiles discovered this became the lightening rod of opposition and for many it overshadowed all other considerations. THe reversal of the opinion of the prominent Democrats who supported the notion of regime change (for sotensible party political reasons IMO) aided in that process.

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  71. tom hunter (3,999 comments) says:

    From memory he was also found by the DOD to have knowingly falsified/exaggerated WMD evidence in Iraq, as well as inventing the al Quaeda/Irag special relationship.

    Ah no. Actually that was the WaPo and they corrected the article a few days later when they admitted that the devastating quotes came not from the Pentagon Inspector General’s report but are actually from ye old partisan faithful Democrat, Carl Levin’s report.

    References to Feith’s office producing “reporting of dubious quality or reliability” and that the office “was predisposed to finding a significant relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda” were from a report issued by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) in Oct. 2004.

    Similarly, the quotes stating that Feith’s office drew on “both reliable and unreliable reporting” to produce a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq “that was much stronger than that assessed by the IC [Intelligence Community] and more in accord with the policy views of senior officials in the Administration” were also from Levin’s report.

    The article also stated that the intelligence provided by Feith’s office supported the political views of senior administration officials, a conclusion that the inspector general’s report did not draw.

    That’s why “corrections” are such a waste of time – the narrative of the original is what remains in the memory, as the WaPo fully intended.

    He was in charge of the Office of Special Plans(?) the alternative intelligence analysis group set up by Cheney and Rumsfeld which provided analysis completely at odds with the CIA and other US agencies.

    The actual relevant quotes from the DOD on these matters were that Feith and co.:

    “developed, produced, and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al Qaida relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community, to senior decision-makers.”

    “[and] did draw conclusions that were not fully supported by the available intelligence.”

    Inconsistent and not fully supported is much different language, delivering very different meanings from the phrase completely at odds.

    If I’d seen 3000 of my fellow citizens killed in a massive terrorist attack and added that to a long list of things the CIA “consensus” never saw coming (collapse of USSR, Iranian revolution, etc) I would have set up alternative analysis units also.

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