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The prospect of war in Iraq is a test of real leadership

By David Flint - posted Sunday, 15 September 2002

On all the evidence, Saddam Hussein remains an extremely dangerous and evil man. He has committed the most wicked crimes, including genocide. On his defeat in the Gulf War, he promised to destroy all his chemical and biological weapons and larger missiles. He was to open his country to inspection teams. But from the first inspection he sought to frustrate and deceive the UN. He would have obtained a clearance but for a chance defection which revealed the truth.

If he were up on a second offence in one of our courts, the prosecution could not rely on his prior offence. But this is not a criminal trial. It is said that one of President Clinton’s greatest regrets is that on legal advice he let Osama Bin Ladin escape from the Sudan in 1996.

The President’s legal advisor must have been thinking about the proper procedure for arresting, say, a burglar.


He should have been thinking of anticipated self-defence in international law, which would have been more than justified.

Does anyone seriously doubt that Saddam is continuing to accumulate weapons of mass destruction? Does anyone seriously doubt that he will use or threaten to use them? Does anyone seriously doubt that if, in a last attempt to avoid retribution, he allows in inspection teams – as he now says he will – he will not practice every possible deceit on them?

It would be remarkably naïve to believe Saddam has in anyway reformed. That is precisely why the Americans and the British are still involved in enforcing the no-fly zone, and the RAN involved in enforcing the blockade.

All of this is known, but many in the West are still demanding further proof that Saddam is accumulating weapons of mass destruction. Or that he will use them, or threaten to use them. Because of this, or to rally support, there are calls for more inspections and proof. Knowing that these will only give Saddam time, and not stop him, President Bush in his UN address showed himself understandably impatient with some of his allies.

While there is no legal nor forensic reason to put the inspection teams back into Iraq as a precondition to further sanctions, the President will accept this. The reason is not so much that inspections would actually disclose and result in the unconditional destruction, removal or rendering harmless all those chemical and biological weapons and missiles enumerated in Security Council 687 of 1999. If they did, that would be a bonus. Putting the inspections back in, or obtaining an unreasonable refusal for their entry, should finally satisfy other leaders and their people that the danger is real and imminent.

Obviously a coalition is better than an Anglo-American Force supported by Australia.


George W. Bush and Tony Blair are now being reminded that Westerners typically find it hard to believe that a national leader can be incredibly evil, or even perhaps that evil exists. There is an assumption that everybody is, if not fundamentally decent, at least rational. Why else did Britain and France give Hitler so many chances, culminating in Munich, and even after his further betrayal there? Those who so readily rush to condemn Chamberlain should recall that unlike the Poles, Czechoslovakia was not going to fight.

And unlike today, the Munich generation – at least in Britain, France and Australia – had seen such a bloodletting of their very best, that they were understandably reluctant to rush into battle.

So today, many in the West are bending over backwards, hoping that Saddam, if he is not a reformed character, is at least sufficiently cowered to understand that should he use or threaten to use any weapons of mass destruction against another country, he will be overthrown.

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About the Author

David Flint is a former chairman of the Australian Press Council and the Australian Broadcasting Authority, is author of The Twilight of the Elites, and Malice in Media Land, published by Freedom Publishing. His latest monograph is Her Majesty at 80: Impeccable Service in an Indispensable Office, Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, Sydney, 2006

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