Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee released a bi-partisan report examining the Bush administration's reasons for going to war in Iraq. Two days later, a British panel chaired by former cabinet secretary Robin Butler released a similar report, taking aim at the Blair government's claims. Both reports paint a disturbing picture of flawed intelligence and mistakes made at the highest level of government. The reaction abroad to the reports highlights the continuing erosion of U.S. credibility overseas. Below is a sample of the global commentary:
"The Senate committee has come to the conclusion that a policy of containment was preferable to invasion. President Bush's problems in Iraq are of his own making. Now that he finds it difficult to extricate the U.S. from the rising flames of insurgency and guerrilla war in Iraq, his withdrawal routes are becoming fewer by the day."
– Free Press Journal, July 13, 2004
"Judgment and trust are central features of modern government and politics. This was highlighted in the decisions made by the British and United States governments to wage war against Iraq over the last two years. Yesterday's report by the Butler inquiry into the role of intelligence in Britain's decision-making on the war reinforces the point… Nobody is blamed for the intelligence failures and its terms of reference precluded a close examination of the political responsibility for the decision to go to war on false premises. Political judgment, trust and credibility are the longer term casualties of this affair."
– Irish Times, July 15, 2004
"[T]he U.S. Senate report on intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction has confirmed the massive destruction of the other justification of the American 'hawks' for attacking Iraq, i.e., the direct threat that Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction represented. And indeed, these weapons have never been found."
– Le Soir, July 13, 2004
"Much has already been said about Bush’s mistakes relating to Iraq. But it is worth it to look at them as a whole…. If the intelligence services functioned poorly (as had already happened on September 11), the political responsibility rests with the president. It is even worse if they were pressured into saying what best suited the invasion enthusiasts…. There are those who speak of lies and not of mistakes. We had good faith in Bush: we are left with the mistakes. But aren't these too many mistakes for the president of the only superpower to make?"
– Diário de Notícias, July 14, 2004
"Butler therefore has discharged the British government from any involvement in a plot to mislead Parliament and the voters into backing the war…. This comment resonates nicely with Tony Blair’s assertion last week that despite all the evidence to the contrary, WMD could still exist…. But the Blair government is unlikely to bring itself to say any such thing, because it is absolutely sure that in ousting Saddam Hussein, albeit at the cost of the subsequent months of chaos and terror, it was entirely right."
– Arab News, July 15, 2004
"Three days after the publication of the devastating Senate report, [George W. Bush] tried to go back on the offensive, justifying once again, as if it were nothing, going to war with Iraq…. The problem that, sadly, George W. Bush always sweeps under the carpet, is that the conditions and justifications behind the war are not without importance."
– Le Soleil, July 13, 2004
"The United States Senate has, in its report, made a scathing attack on the Bush administration and the CIA on going to war in Iraq. Simply stated the decision to go to war was based on false premises and on utterly flawed intelligence. It is now evident that the right wing hawks of the Pentagon of the Bush administration were hell bent to attack Iraq, and used intelligence, which they…[used] to mislead the Senate, the Congress and the people of the United States of America. Their lies have been made naked and they should resign."
– Star, July 11, 2004
"This unanimous report is especially noteworthy in that it has made clear that the U.S. administration's two biggest rationales for invading Iraq were totally groundless…. Nevertheless, far from apologizing to the Iraqis and the international community for the U.S. deceit and distortion, President Bush is repeating the same, false claims."
– Hankyoreh Shinmun, July 13, 2004