Kazuhiko Kusano /Mainichi News – 2010-09-04 02:17:34
Powell Tells Mainichi Iraq Invasion Was Avoidable,
Regrets False WMD Intelligence
TOKYO (September 2, 2010) — Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell has told the Mainichi he believes the Iraq War — which began while he was in office in 2003 — could have been averted.
Powell also stated during an Aug. 24 telephone interview that he regretted the false intelligence that led the United States to claim the Saddam Hussein regime possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which Powell presented to the United Nations and which underpinned the US case to invade Iraq.
“I will always be seen as the one who made the major public presentation of that intelligence. I regret that it was wrong but, at the same time, we had every reason to believe it was correct,” Powell said of the false WMD evidence.
In a 2005 interview on ABC television, Powell called the speech a “blot” on his reputation, though he also emphasized that he did not fabricate the intelligence — a point he was keen to reiterate to the Mainichi.
“It was the intelligence that was wrong. I did not make up this information; I did not invent it; I did not pull it out of the air. It was information that our intelligence community stood behind,” he stated.
In November 2002, the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution demanding Iraq submit to WMD inspections. Powell made his famous WMD speech at the U.N. in February 2003, and the United States launched its attack on the country on the 20th the following month. However, by 2005 the US intelligence community had concluded that the WMD intelligence had been almost entirely false.
Before his execution in 2006, Saddam Hussein stated that he refused to submit to the inspections even with war looming because he “didn’t want to show weakness to Iran.”
Had it been proven that Iraq had no WMD before the outbreak of hostilities, “My own judgment is that the United States would not have gone to war because it was WMD that was the basis of the resolution we got from the United Nations; it was the basis that President Bush took to the American people,” said Powell. The former secretary also stated that as he, President George W. Bush and the US Congress all acted in the belief the intelligence was valid, the invasion of Iraq was legal.
Regarding Japan’s backing in the war and July 2003 dispatch of troops to Samawah in southern Iraq, Powell said the US is “very appreciative of Japanese support, ” adding that in the wake of the fall of Baghdad, “the Japanese realized … it was now important to start building a country.”
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