... .. opinion


The Bush administration has proven its skill at fabricating new excuses whenever old ones for the unpopular war against Iraq failed to convince the world.

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said his boss still made the right decision to go to war to remove Saddam Hussein's regime, even if Iraq had no stockpiles of dangerous weapons.

Accusing Saddam of intending to produce prohibited weapons of mass destruction (WMD), Powell said the regime was "a risk" the United States could not abide and the war was "something that we all agreed to and would probably agree to again under any other set of circumstances."

Powell's words seem to be the last but possibly the most effective weapon to which Washington can resort to vindicate itself for a war lacking the support of international law and opinion.

Any country can be said to intend to develop dangerous weapons. All weapons are dangerous. But that should not constitute an excuse for one nation to attack another.

To gain support from the international community prior to the war, Washington said it had sound intelligence that Iraq possessed WMD. But so far it has not found any such weapons, despite virtually turning Iraq inside out.

President George W. Bush and his war backers now clearly know their previous justification for the war can no longer hold water, especially after David Kay, the chief US weapons hunter in Iraq, said last week they were wrong to conclude that Iraq had WMD.

Whether Bush was also the victim of the false intelligence or he and his subordinates deliberately concocted that intelligence, it is now the time for him to provide the world with an answer.

For the United States, the world's sole superpower which has already established a pre-emptive military strategy as one of the pillars of its security posture, to confess it was wrong in initiating the war against Iraq is difficult.

Iraq was the first target of Bush's pre-emptive doctrine, and confessing that the war was wrong would mean that doctrine is wrong.

It's unlikely the White House is willing to do that.

It does not seem to matter too much whether or not the United States should concede its mistakes, given that the losses suffered by Iraq will never be recovered. But a deep and correct introspection could be of great significance to the superpower's future attitude on pre-emptive strategy.

(China Daily 02/05/2004 page6)


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