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'I simply don't believe the whole thing was a lie'

by The Guardian Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 7:33 AM

"In the Iraq debate, my conscience was overruled by loyalty but I doubt I'd vote the same way again. The sole reason I backed the government amendment was because we were given very clear indications there were weapons of mass destruction and that these could be used against neighbouring countries. As far as I'm concerned, that was the only legitimate reason for going to war.

'I simply don't believe the whole thing was a lie'

Pro-war pundits keep faith in reasons for war while MPs reveal discomfort that house may have been misled

Friday May 30, 2003

The Guardian

William Shawcross Historian and journalist who supported the war

"I am absolutely convinced that weapons of mass destruction were there and that they will be found. I simply do not believe that the whole thing was a lie.

"But I must admit I am perplexed that they haven't been found, although I think they will be. Just because Saddam Hussein has not been found does not mean he did not exist either."

Brian Donohoe Labour MP for Cunningham South, rebelled in the initial Iraq debate in February but abstained in the March 18 debate

"In the Iraq debate, my conscience was overruled by loyalty but I doubt I'd vote the same way again. The sole reason I backed the government amendment was because we were given very clear indications there were weapons of mass destruction and that these could be used against neighbouring countries. As far as I'm concerned, that was the only legitimate reason for going to war.

"The prime minister is still of the opinion that they exist, and we will hold him to this.

"Do I think they exist? I just can't accept the government, with the intelligence facilities they have over here and in the States ... would make such a fundamental mistake ... But it's beginning to look as if they don't. It's five or six weeks after the end of the war, we've 300,000-400,000 troops over there and we're still not in a position to have determined if they're there.

"I am not saying I feel conned. But at some point in the future the government have to be able to establish the fact they exist. It's an extremely worrying situation and we would want to have clarification in our own party, in our government. We want an explanation being given. Clearly, there are major concerns about the credibility of those telling us things about WMD."

Doug Henderson Former defence minister, rebelled against the government

"I was opposed to the invasion of Iraq but not specifically because of weapons of mass destruction. The issue wasn't just about WMD but about whether [Saddam] was a danger to other countries.

"I thought after the war that it would be reasonable to give the government six months or a year [to find them], but now Rumsfeld has more or less implied there may not be WMD. I think the government are going to have to make a statement when the house comes back and tell the house what exactly they knew before the war.

"If it transpires the government had information that said it was unlikely there were WMD then parliament, and the country, have been misled.

"If the government doesn't find the WMD quickly, I think there will be political instability.

"I know a lot of colleagues voted with the government because of WMD. They have had to face their constituency parties over this - and they will feel they have been made mugs of."

Parmjit Dhanda Labour MP for Gloucester, voted with the government in the first Iraq debate, rebelled in the second and abstained from the government's motion on weapons of mass destruction

"I don't regret the way I voted and I would do so again.

"Finding weapons of mass destruction does matter but for me this wasn't the overriding reason: for me, and for many of my colleagues, the main thing was not getting a second UN resolution.

"I personally believe weapons of mass destruction will be found, but we have to be patient and give this time. They could be found within the next 24 hours."

Frederick Forsyth Novelist

"Tony Blair is exceptionally dangerous in that he can believe anything he wants to believe. If he wants to believe that north is south, that is what he will do.

"Oddly that does not change my view that there was justification for the war. Firstly there is no doubt Saddam had cracked all the technology of WMD, secondly the cruelty and mass murder he committed, and thirdly it is not a good idea to have a third of the world's oil resources under the control of a man who is so clearly mad."

Malcolm Rifkind Former Conservative foreign secretary

"At each stage Blair's justification for the war has been shown to be on very very shaky ground. What you tend to get now is statements from Washington and London, saying, 'Well never mind all that we have got rid of a very nasty regime which would have been still there if we hadn't gone to war.'

"Quite a lot of us, from all political parties, had significant reservations about the conflict. We were entitled to assume the government had access to information which made them confident that the attack on Iraq was essential to eliminate weapons of mass destruction.

"I think it is too early to conclude that they were wrong, because who knows they could be discovered tomorrow, but it is looking pretty odd."

Andrew Roberts Rightwing historian

"It has not changed my view of the war at all. Just because we have not found WMD does not mean we want Saddam back. It was a brilliant operation, it was over in three weeks and it cost 31 British dead. It was a miraculous victory.

"I truly believe that both Bush and Blair genuinely believed there were weapons of mass destruction so logically that does not affect the justification for the war.

"I believe they genuinely thought he was a threat to the region.

"I think they were right in that; I think his invasions of his neighbours prove that and he had used WMD before so he obviously had them at some stage.

"So in all logic they had every right and it does not affect my view one iota. Anyway, shouldn't we all be celebrating that our troops were not subjected to chemical and biological weapons rather than moaning about it?"

Yasser Alaskary Iraqi exile who supported military action to bring down Saddam Hussein

"The issue of weapons of mass destruction is the way that America and Britain justified the war, but it would not have been the way that I justified it.

"I believe that there was a humanitarian disaster going on in Iraq for so many years under the regime of Saddam Hussein - and that was good enough on its own.

"That's quite clear if you look at the mass graves being dug up. If they'd based it on that, they would have been on much stronger ground.

"As an Iraqi, it doesn't concern me what trouble the UK or American administrations are in, what concerns me is that the Iraqi people have been liberated from Saddam.

"The major task is rebuilding the country and finding weapons of mass destruction doesn't aid that at all.

"It doesn't matter to ordinary Iraqis. I've spoken to relatives, who can now speak freely, and nobody mentions this."

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 30 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Prophetic Words Diogenes Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 7:35 AM
I'm a sucker. Diogenes Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 7:36 AM
Oh yeah. Systefailure Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 7:37 AM
I'm the imp KOBE SBM Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 7:46 AM
yep, yer an imp alright! Diogenes Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 7:49 AM
Did you say "queen?" KOBE SBM Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 7:50 AM
I believe that! Diogenes Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 7:53 AM
Sorry KOBE SBM Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 7:57 AM
KOBE KOBE SBM Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 9:12 AM
Exist George Bush Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 9:40 AM
And by the way... Meyer London Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 9:44 AM
Weapons Secretary Rumsfeld Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 9:52 AM
And also Meyer London Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 9:59 AM
Damned Elitists Jerry Falwell Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 10:51 AM
I'm An Elitist Noam Chomsky Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 11:00 AM
Great Zeus! Alexander the Great Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 11:04 AM
Crazy Ideas Head of the Inquisition Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 11:13 AM
Crazy Ideas Head of the Inquisition Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 11:13 AM
Crazy Ideas Head of the Inquisition Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 11:13 AM
Crazy Ideas Head of the Inquisition Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 11:13 AM
Crazy Ideas Head of the Inquisition Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 11:13 AM
Crazy Ideas Head of the Inquisition Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 11:13 AM
elite Dennis Kucinich Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 11:17 AM
Flaky Elbows Joe Revlon Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 11:18 AM
Preventative War A. Hitler Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 11:26 AM
Space: The Final Frontier Capt. James T. Kirk Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 11:36 AM
Free Market Reforms Boris Yeltsin Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 12:15 PM
I'm also a drunken fool KOBE SBM Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 12:53 PM
Help me Eric Friday, Jun. 06, 2003 at 9:14 AM

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