Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Iraq WMD report gets the media treatment
I've spoken before about the consistent superiority of political expediency over independent tribunals and investigations, especially in this critical US election year, and another case in point is the latest Iraq weapons report from the chief US weapons inspector. The report had clearly been exposed to Democratic and Republican decision-makers before its publication with the result that again, a critical report bears something for both sides to cling to. The report's main finding is that there were no WMD's in Iraq when the US waged its justification for the war, and its resultant invasion. However, the report states that Saddam "sought to sustain the requisite knowledge base to restart the program eventually." This on its own is a fairly innocuous statement. Considering that he had no complete nuclear capability before 1991, this capacity refers to chemical weapons and the beginnings of a nuclear research program, which "requisite knowledge" would be held by a significant number of global countries. I'm pretty sure South Africa, after dismantling its weapons program, still holds the "requisite knowledge" to restart its WMD program 'eventually'.

It also included are some bizarre references to Saddam Hussein having tried to bribe foreign diplomats to get off his case. In a weapons report?

The obvious result is that each side carries in their loyal media the different angles on the report:

The Washington Post (Democrat-leaning): Weapons That Weren't There
The Washington Times (Republican-leaning): Saddam worked secretly on WMDs
The New York Times (Democrat-leaning): U.S. Report Finds Iraqis Eliminated Illicit Arms in 90's
The New York Post (Republican-leaning): Suck-ups for Saddam's Oil

The rest of the world's media, predominantly less interested in the report's impact on election politics, (UK excluded) carries the main thrust if the report's message about the lack of WMD's, including our own media:

News24 (SA)
Mail and Guardian (SA/UK)
Turkish Press (Turkey)
Sify News (India)
Xinhua (China)
Globe and Mail (Canada)
Gulf Daily News (Bahrain)
Daily Times (Pakistan)