Atlantic chill

February 05, 2004 ,

THEY say when America sneezes Europe catches a cold. The US Presidential election is an example.

The Government has announced an inquiry into intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction; the basis for Britain’s decision on war with Iraq.

I didn’t support war, but never doubted the Prime Minister was sincere about his belief in the threat.

But intelligence can be wrong, particularly if your enemy is trying to appear stronger than he is.
Just because you put up a “Beware of the Dog” sign, it doesn’t mean you own a Rottweiller.

The Government might have wanted to resist this Inquiry, but American developments made that impossible.

Firstly, David Kay, who led team sent by President Bush to find WMD, now says he does not think these weapons exist.

Secondly, as the contest to be the Democratic candidate for the Presidency hots up, increasing scrutiny is falling on President Bush’s pre-war actions.

The story of what intelligence was available to the US and the UK governments will come out in America, whether anyone in Britain likes it or not.

But we should never be smug with the benefit of hindsight.
It’s a fact that Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against his own people in Halabja in 1988.

For an Iraqi Kurd whose neighbours were gassed the threat was very real.

As for the Democratic nomination, like Neil Kinnock in 1992, one rash speech has ruled out Howard Dean.
The new front runner, John Kerry, is ahead of Bush in the polls.
George W. Bush will be difficult to beat, but may be vulnerable because Tony Blair persuaded him he couldn’t just attack Saddam without proving he had WMD.

Being wrong about WMD could mean it is the American President who catches cold from this side of the Atlantic.