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Last weekend, BBC World broadcast an interview that David Frost recently had with president George W. Bush.
Even though Frost seemed to avoid the really difficult questions, the interview was interesting, and to some extent revealing. Here are some fragments of the interview, and some comments.
After some friendly small talk, the rest of the interview was dominated by the Iraqi war and its prelude and aftermath. Touching upon the failure to bring about a second UN resolution in March 2003, Davis Frost asked:
DF: Will you ever be able to forgive Jacques Chirac and Chancellor Schröder for their action at the time in undermining the second resolution?
And president Bush answered:
GB: Of course! /.../
Very generous, indeed! The man who broke international law is willing to forgive colleagues for not breaking international law. But perhaps they don´t want to be forgiven?
The next question was:
DF: Tell me about ... in terms of Iraq ... weapons of mass destruction, the fact that we didn´t find them and so on /.../ Do you think that you were the victim of a failure of intelligence in a way?
GB: Not at all. I think our intelligence was sound, and I know the British intelligence was sound.
But in July this year, president Bush had to admit that the claim in his 2003 State of the Union speech that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy uranium in Africa was false, and he blamed the CIA for this ‘mistake’. As for the ‘sound’ British intelligence, what about the February dossier, which turned out to be, partly, a piece of plagiarism downloaded from the Internet?
In this connection, Frost went on asking:
DF: Did you ever believe that stuff about him [Saddam Hussein] having weapons of mass destruction that could be unleashed in 45 minutes or did you never really believe that?
GB: I believed he was a dangerous man.
DF: But you didn’t believe that?
GB: Well ... I believed a lot of things ... I know he was a dangerous man. /.../
Conclusion: George W. Bush did not believe in the 45 minutes claim.
Then the UN resolution 1441 was touched upon. President Bush gave his view on the interpretation of the well-known ‘serious consequences’ passage:
GB: A serious consequence in this case was removing Saddam Hussein.
Most experts on international law would disagree. In any case, it was up to the UN, not individual UN members, to interpret its own resolution, and to judge whether Saddam Hussein had violated his obligations.
Then came the war, and it was conducted in a ...
GB: ...compassionate way. We spared innocent lives /.../ Very little of Iraq was touched in toppling Saddam Hussein. /.../
Cf., for example, Donald Rumsfeld’s ‘shock and awe’ doctrine. The ‘compassionate’ war efforts affected directly at least 10 out of 23 million Iraqis, hardly a ‘very little’ part of the population.
After the war, there has been some resistance to the occupants:
GB: ... in a relatively small part of the country there are Baathists ...
DF: You call it the Baathist triangle.
GB: ... the Sunni triangle ... they are attacking /.../
Some weeks ago, this may have been true. By now, the resistance has spread to other parts of the country.
At the end of the interview, David Frost asked about the Guantanamo affair.
DF: ... what’s going to happen to our British detainees?
GB: /.../ These prisoners are being /.../ well treated [!] and they will go through a military tribunal at some point of time [!] /.../
It is hardly necessary to comment on this. The falseness of the first claim is even illustrated by the second part of the proposition.
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© Copyright Sven-Göran Malmgren 2003 For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .