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From the July 2003 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 50, No. 7)

Viewpoints

Weapons of Mass Destruction, MIA

Comment and analysis from Paris, London, Oslo, Milan, Beijing, Athens, Mexico City, Edinburgh, New Delhi, Cairo, Bangkok, and Tehran

Bush and Blair
U.S. soldiers search an industrial complex in the central Iraqi town of Baquba for chemical weapons, May 1, 2003. None were found (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP).
Paris
Le Monde (liberal), May 8: Almost a month after the fall of Baghdad, none of the weapons the U.S. government accused Saddam Hussein of possessing have been found....In mid-January, a senior State Department official nevertheless stated that, as soon as they had control of the country, U.S. forces would be able to establish the veracity of these accusations. “Do you know where to find these weapons?” one journalist asked. The reply was categorical: “Yes, absolutely.”

London The Observer (liberal), May 11: Many experts believe something will be found. Before the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq did have a massive chemical and biological weapons program. Some is probably still lying around. If sufficient quantities can be uncovered perhaps it will be enough for a public eager to feel the war was worth it. Finding nothing is unthinkable.

Oslo Aftenposten (conservative), May 7: The Bush administration had described a comprehensive system of weapons of mass destruction, where thousands of tons or liters of varying substances were manufactured. It may still happen that the American forces find such weapons, but developments up until now represent a colossal disappointment and also a potential undermining of the whole rationale for the invasion.
—Geir Lundestad

Milan Panorama (centrist newsmagazine), April 17: At this moment, the war’s official motive has taken a back seat. It seems that these weapons of mass destruction are not the main cause of the conflict any more. Yet one of the short-term goals will be to demonstrate their existence. So far, the only trace of suspect substances has been found in some cans near ancient Babylon, at Albu Mahawish. Not enough to quell criticisms that could come both from United Nations organizations and other European countries that opposed the invasion.
—Massimo Franco

Beijing World News Journal (biweekly of China Radio International), May 1: It has become the most sensitive and the most urgent task for the U.S. military force to search for weapons of mass destruction since Iraq was occupied. This is directly related to the question of whether the war carried out by coalition forces against Iraq was lawful or not....So the international media have raised inquiries: Does Iraq actually hold weapons of mass destruction? Is the U.S. Army sincere and honest in its searching operation?
—Xin Di

Athens Ta Nea (liberal), April 12: Washington and London up until today reassure us that these weapons exist and shall be found. But where? This is one of the “unanswerable questions,” probably the main one, since its promotion was the basis of the argument for a military intervention. Of course, answers to this question are being sought and efforts are being made in that direction. Until now, though, no “smoking gun” has been found....So, where are the super-weapons and chemicals?
—Rena Dimitriou

Mexico City La Jornada (left-wing), April 27: With no testimonies and with no evidence, Bush has held, against all odds, that his war was against an enemy equipped with prohibited weapons, even though the existence of such weapons has never been proved, not yesterday, not today. What’s it all about? It’s not just oil. We could say that is the utilitarian part of the matter. But there is also a perverse intention....Bush wants the world. The world all for himself. For his system. For his financial group. For his banks.
—Juan Saldaña

Edinburgh The Scotsman (independent, moderate), May 12: The United States is scaling back a military task force hunting for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq amid rising frustration over the failure to find chemical, biological, or nuclear arms....The 75th Exploita-tion Task Force was described as the spearhead of the U.S. plan to discover and display forbidden Iraqi weapons. The group’s departure, expected [in June], marks a milestone in frustration for a major declared objective of the war.
—Gethin Chamberlain

New Delhi Hindustan Times (centrist), April 24: The controversy about Iraq’s putative weapons of mass destruction is becoming murkier. While no trace of these has yet been found, the United Nations’ chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, has leveled charges against both the United States and Britain, which are highly disturbing, to say the least.

Cairo Al-Akhbar (government-owned), May 6: Today, though more than a month and a half has passed since the war started, no trace has surfaced of the weapons that the U.S. president and the British prime minister alleged were in Iraq and that they used as an excuse to wage the war....The sure thing is that no one believes or trusts the statements issued by the U.S. administration any longer. If this administration today announces that its men found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, no one will believe it.
—Said Sunbul

Bangkok Matichon (independent, center-left), May 8: The whole world is asking the question: “Where are Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction?”...The question will remain, haunting both the United States and Britain as long as they cannot find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and show them to the world....With all its might and willing informants, the only reason the United States failed to find any clues is that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. A bitter pill for the United States to swallow, of course; hence President George Bush’s continuing stubborn hunt.

Tehran Resalat (conservative), May 7: After the war in Iraq, the Americans revealed their political and greed-oriented motives in the fight against terrorism and the discussion on weapons of mass destruction. Words such as terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, democracy, and human rights are used as tools by the U.S. administration to infiltrate and to gain control. Moral and humanistic motives are not the elements that encourage the United States in its war against terrorism, the destruction of weapons of mass destruction, and the creation of democracy in some countries. The United States has always had a dual vision of these words, with selective comprehension and an interest-motivated outlook.

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