Tags: Eve | Retirement | Blix | Takes | Off | the | Gloves

On Eve of Retirement, Blix Takes Off the Gloves

Wednesday, 11 June 2003 12:00 AM

Winding up his affairs at his 31st floor office at the U.N. tower in New York, Blix told the Guardian that the vitriol went beyond that which percolated in Baghdad. “I have my detractors in Washington. There are bastards who spread things around, of course, who planted nasty things in the media.”

Although conceding that both the U.S. and the U.K. were sincere in their focus on WMD in Saddam’s hands and claiming generally good relations all around, Blix complained, “Towards the end the [Bush] administration leaned on us, hoping the inspectors would employ more damning language in their reports to swing votes on the U.N. Security Council.”

In March, Blix explained, Washington was particularly riled that his team had not “made more” of the discovery of cluster bombs and drones.

Blix also commented on “some elements” of the Pentagon being behind a smear campaign against him. His favored example: the media cracks about his flair for inspection lying exclusively with the studious review of menus at upscale East Side restaurants.

However, Blix qualified, the most galling jibes came in the form of accusations of “softness,” leveled at times by senior American officials. “They would say I was too compliant with the Iraqis, when in reality [they meant] I was not compliant enough with what the U.S. wanted.” Asked if he believed he had been the target of a deliberate smear campaign he said, “Yes, I probably was at a lower level.”

Blix, who believes that the Security Council is the one thing standing between the U.S. and its unfettered exercise of its new doctrine of preemptive attacks to ensure security from terror, recounted how he thought Washington regarded the U.N. as an “alien power.” “There are people in this administration who say they don’t care if the U.N. sinks under the East river, and other crude things.”

“It would be more desirable and more reasonable [for the U.S.] to ask for Security Council authority, especially at a time when communism no longer exists and you don’t have automatic vetoes from Russia and China,” Blix said.

But hurt feelings aside, Blix said his temperament as a trained lawyer has left him “agnostic” as to the question of whether Iraq is still hiding WMDs. “[W]e cannot exclude they may find something.” He also magnanimously conceded that the Iraqi regime would likely never have complied with any of the U.N. resolutions around disarmament had it not been for the presence of 200,000 U.S. troops in the region.

Meanwhile as Blair fades away, the issue of whether the U.S. and the U.K. hyped the danger from Iraq will not leave the radar screen.

Most recently, British Prime Minister Tony Blair declared defiantly to the Commons that he would not appear before the foreign affairs select committee inquiry into WMD.

On the U.S. front, the Bush administration has been grappling with reports that the CIA knew for months that a connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida was highly unlikely. Adding to the mix are leaks from CIA officials suggesting a predisposition in the White House to suppress or ignore intelligence findings which did not buttress the case for war.

Blix’s final take on the issue: Only time will tell -- although that is passing by “quite fast and instead of talking about [finding] WMD, they’re talking about the program.”

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Winding up his affairs at his 31st floor office at the U.N. tower in New York, Blix told the Guardian that the vitriol went beyond that which percolated in Baghdad. "I have my detractors in Washington. There are bastards who spread things around, of course, who planted...
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Wednesday, 11 June 2003 12:00 AM
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