The “evidence” which was presented to the United Nations Security Council today by Colin Powell was a miscellany of obscure recordings which were misinterpreted by the US Secretary of State and risible satellite photographs which bore a strange resemblance to those which had been taken in Afghanistan two years before.
Colin Powell described the snippets of conversation and cloudy satellite pictures as “solid evidence” that Iraq was in breach of UN SC Resolution 1441 and that this created the grounds for “serious consequences” to be applied.
He began by playing two recordings of conversations between Iraqi officials speaking about sites to be inspected by the UNMOVIC team. In one, the Iraqi claimed “We don’t have anything left”, interpreted by Colin Powell, to quote, “It was not around” when the inspectors came. There is a subtle and unsubstantiated insinuation in Powell’s remark, this being that the material had been removed. Or destroyed, in accordance with the provisions of the UN Resolution but this hypothesis was systematically ignored by the head of US diplomacy throughout his arrogant, forbearing and bullying intervention.
In the second recording, a Republican Guard received a message from an official which stated “There is a possibility that there is by chance forbidden ammo” in the compound. Colin Powell interpreted this as a message to “evacuate it” because there was a “presence of weapons of mass destruction”.
Not so. The Iraqi message could have involved anything from out-of-date shells, and we do not know whether the subject of this conversation was the cache of obsolete arms that the inspectors found lying under three years of bird excrement, to banned components. It does not automatically mean that weapons of mass destruction are involved as Colin Powell so simplistically and childishly tried to state.
The fact that Colin Powell was trying so obviously to find links where there were none, does nothing to further the notion that the Bush administration believes in the UNO as a forum of debate. Instead, it lends weight to the belief that the United States of America prefers to ride roughshod over the rest of the international community, as has long been suspected.