CHARLES DUELFER, jefe del equipo de inspectores de la CIA que ha estado buscando las pruebas sobre las armas de destrucción masiva de Iraq, presentó ayer su informe final. Son más de 1000 páginas (150 megabytes en tres archivos pdf), mas una presentación-resumen de 19 páginas que es lo único que he leído por el momento.
Los titulares de la prensa de hoy estaban cantados, a pesar de que con ello -y como tantas veces- abordan únicamente una parte de la cuestión y dejan fuera partes cruciales de la información que se deberían transmitir. Porque el casus belli contra Saddam no era la posesión de ADM, sino el incumplimiento de la resolución 1441 del Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU y, por tanto, de las 16 resoluciones anteriores desde 1991. El informe, es cierto, afirma que Iraq no disponía de stocks de ADM desplegados y a punto de ser usados, pero también demuestra que Saddam disponía del know how para desarrollarlas, así como de actividades de investigación en instalaciones de doble uso en las que incluso había hecho pruebas en humanos, y de planes de fabricación de misiles de 1000 kilómetros de alcance. Todo ello estaba tan prohibido por la resolución 1441 como las armas en sí mismas, y los inspectores dirigidos por Blix y El Baradei no habían detectado nada antes de la guerra.
Y lo que es peor, el informe establece que Saddam tenía la voluntad de emplear ese know how para volverse a dotar de ADM tan pronto como se levantasen las sanciones económicas contra el país (y podía conseguirlo en algunos casos en sólo tres meses desde que diera la luz verde); algo que confiaba ocurriera pronto gracias a la gigantesca red de propaganda que había montado para convencer a la opinión pública mundial de que esas sanciones estaban privando de alimentos y medicinas a la población y causando la muerte de miles de niños. Por supuesto, sabemos bien que esas carencias se debían a que el propio Saddam y sus muchachos se estaban apropiando de buena parte de los 10.000 millones de dólares defraudados a través del programa Petróleo por Alimentos. Y también sabemos que con ese dinero defraudado estaban pagando, además de todo tipo de lujos, una gigantesca red de relaciones públicas en la que opinadores, activistas y políticos de todo el mundo (algunos muy conocidos, y también muy cercanos) trabajaban todo tipo de instancias oficiales, foros de opinión y medios de comunicación abogando por el levantamiento de las sanciones.
Lo que es imposible negar es que una parte de la argumentación en torno a la guerra formulada por los dirigentes de los países de la coalición estaba basaba en información errónea de sus respectivos servicios de inteligencia, que partían del supuesto de que esas armas existían. El que no hayan aparecido es en sí mismo un gigantesco error de esos servicios de inteligencia que no supieron ver el farol de Saddam, que daba a entender que sí disponía de ADM 'usables' para así fortalecer su imagen de líder temible dentro y fuera del país, particularmente frente a su eterno enemigo y vecino Irán. En mi opinión el fiasco es especialmente grave, no tanto por lo que ha pasado en Iraq (donde el otro argumento principal, la del genocidio de Saddam contra su propio pueblo, se ha cumplido desgraciadamente y con creces, salvo que los 500.000 cadáveres en fosas comunes hayan resucitado sin que me haya dado cuenta), sino por la pérdida de credibilidad de los servicios de inteligencia. Y su credibilidad va a ser crucial cuando haya que afrontar cuestiones peliagudas, por ejemplo en relación con el desarrollo de armamento atómico por parte de Irán.
El único consuelo -si se me permite la expresión- es que ese error no ha sido ni mucho menos exclusivo de la CIA estadounidense o el MI6 británico, porque la afirmación de que Saddam tenía ADM era prácticamente universal y se daba incluso en los países que más se opusieron a la guerra, como Francia o Alemania.
Fijaos si era universal que hasta Zapatero lo creía.
ACTUALIZACIÓN. Más detalles sobre lo que he comentado más arriba. The Scotsman:
SADDAM HUSSEIN believed he could avoid the Iraq war with a bribery strategy targeting Jacques Chirac, the President of France, according to devastating documents released last night.The Daily Telegraph:
Memos from Iraqi intelligence officials, recovered by American and British inspectors, show the dictator was told as early as May 2002 that France - having been granted oil contracts - would veto any American plans for war.
But the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), which returned its full report last night, said Saddam was telling the truth when he denied on the eve of war that he had any weapons of mass destruction (WMD). He had not built any since 1992.
The ISG, who confirmed last autumn that they had found no WMD, last night presented detailed findings from interviews with Iraqi officials and documents laying out his plans to bribe foreign businessmen and politicians.
Although they found no evidence that Saddam had made any WMD since 1992, they found documents which showed the "guiding theme" of his regime was to be able to start making them again with as short a lead time as possible."
Saddam was convinced that the UN sanctions - which stopped him acquiring weapons - were on the brink of collapse and he bankrolled several foreign activists who were campaigning for their abolition. He personally approved every one.
To keep America at bay, he focusing on Russia, France and China - three of the five UN Security Council members with the power to veto war. Politicians, journalists and diplomats were all given lavish gifts and oil-for-food vouchers.
Tariq Aziz, the former Iraqi deputy prime minister, told the ISG that the "primary motive for French co-operation" was to secure lucrative oil deals when UN sanctions were lifted. Total, the French oil giant, had been promised exploration rights.
Iraqi intelligence officials then "targeted a number of French individuals that Iraq thought had a close relationship to French President Chirac," it said, including two of his "counsellors" and spokesman for his re-election campaign.
They even assessed the chances for "supporting one of the candidates in an upcoming French presidential election." Chirac is not mentioned by name.
Saddam Hussein bribed senior politicians and businessmen around the world to secure an early lifting of sanctions, according to the Iraq Survey Report.ACTUALIZACIÓN II. Más en la CNN:
Focusing his attention in particular on France and Russia, both permanent members of the UN Security Council, Saddam awarded oil exploration contracts and financial inducements to individuals.
The bribes were at first funded by the Iraqi government, but later derived from Saddam's illegal misuse of the oil-for-food programme, which was supposed to provide food for the poor and medicine for the sick.
Some US estimates have suggested that the Iraqis siphoned off $10 billion (£5.6 billion) from the scheme.
"He [Saddam] targeted friendly companies and foreign political parties that possessed either extensive business ties to Iraq, or held pro-Iraq policies," said the report.
The top U.S. arms inspector has accused the former head of the $60 billion U.N. oil-for-food program of accepting bribes in the form of vouchers for Iraqi oil sales from Saddam Hussein's government.ACTUALIZACIÓN III. Y aún más, esta vez en el Washington Post:
The report by Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group, alleges the Iraqi government manipulated the U.N. program from 1996 to 2003 in order to acquire billions of dollars in illicit gains and to import illegal goods, including acquiring parts for missile systems.
The alleged schemes included an Iraqi system for allocating lucrative oil vouchers, which permitted recipients to purchase certain amounts of oil at a profit.
Benon Sevan, the former chief of the U.N. program, is among dozens of people who allegedly received the vouchers, according to the report, which said Saddam personally approved the list.
The secret voucher program was dominated by Russian, French and Chinese recipients, in that order, with Saddam spreading the wealth widely to prominent business men, politicians, foreign government ministries and political parties, the report said.
The report names former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri, and the Russian radical political figure Vladimir Zhirinovsky as voucher recipients, for example, and other foreign governments range from Yemen to Namibia.
The governments of Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Egypt did a brisk illicit oil trade with Iraq as well -- more than $8 billion from 1991 until 2003, the report said.
"These governments were full parties to all aspects of Iraq's unauthorized oil exports and imports," it said.
Saddam Hussein made $11 billion in illegal income and eroded the world's toughest economic embargo during his final years as Iraq's leader through shrewd schemes to secretly buy off dozens of countries, top foreign officials and major international figures, according to a new report by the chief U.S. weapons inspector released yesterday.Y es que, ahí, como escribe Cori Dauber, está precisamente una de las claves: la alternativa no era entre guerra y continuación del status quo ante bellum (un régimen de sanciones que contenían el régimen de Saddam y que teóricamente le impedían desarrollar ADM con el know how que mantenía). La alternativa era entre aquélla y el fin de las sanciones, que habrían dejado a Saddam con miles de millones de dólares más procedentes de la venta de petróleo que le habría proporcionado un poder prácticamente sin control alguno.
Oil "vouchers" that could be resold for large profits were given to officials including Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua and former Russian presidential candidate Vladimir Zhirinovsky as well as governments, companies and influential individuals in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the report said.
Another recipient was Benon Sevan, the former top U.N. official in charge of humanitarian relief. Sevan ran the former oil-for-food program designed to benefit the Iraqi people in the face of economic sanctions intended to cripple Saddam's regime, the report says.
The report, written by chief U.S. weapons inspector Charles A. Duelfer, indicated that some of the oil vouchers were used legitimately by the recipients. Not all were fully cashed in, and some were not used at all. Companies or individuals from at least 44 countries received vouchers, the report said.
Russia, France and China -- all permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- were the top three countries in which individuals, companies or entities received the lucrative vouchers. Hussein's goal, the report said, was to provide financial incentives so that these nations would use their influence to help undermine what Duelfer called an "economic stranglehold" imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
"At a minimum, Saddam wanted to divide the five permanent members and foment international public support of Iraq at the U.N. and throughout the world by a savvy public relations campaign and an extensive diplomatic effort," the report said.
Hussein's effort to thwart the embargo and divide the nations that supported it has long been known, but the Duelfer report reveals the lengths to which he went in attempting to defy the United Nations. The details could buttress Washington's contention that important players were preventing the U.N. program from squeezing Saddam, forcing the United States to launch a war to topple him.
ACTUALIZACIÓN IV. El Washington Post vuelve a demostrar por qué es el mejor de los grandes periódicos norteamericanos (¿o sería más exacto decir 'menos malo?) con un gran editorial sobre lo que verdaderamente implican las conclusiones del informe Duelfer:
[T]the report will surely fuel the debate between Mr. Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry about whether the war should have been undertaken. The two have staked out dramatically contrasting positions, focusing on a theoretical question: If the president had known what the Iraq Survey Group now reports, would he have been right to order an invasion? Mr. Bush says he would have made the same decision; Mr. Kerry says he would not have. Yet in reality no president could have known what is known now. As long as Saddam Hussein remained in power and refused to cooperate fully with the United Nations, there could have been no certainty about his weapons. Mr. Bush had to decide whether the risks of invading outweighed those of standing pat without knowing for sure what U.S. forces would find in Iraq or what would happen once they were there.
Because Mr. Bush chose to act, we know what capabilities Iraq did -- and did not -- possess, and we've learned how difficult it is to occupy and attempt to reconstruct that country. What can't be known is what would have happened had Mr. Bush chosen not to invade. Here the new report suggests some answers. Saddam Hussein, it says, was focused on ending international sanctions, which were crumbling before the crisis began. Had he succeeded, he would have resumed production of chemical weapons and probably a nuclear program as well. Mr. Kerry suggested recently that Saddam Hussein's regime would have collapsed under the inspectors' pressure. That is one possibility; another is that it would have reemerged as a significant power in the Middle East, and as a de facto or real ally of the Islamic extremist forces with which the United States is at war.
The larger question is how, or even whether, decisions about preemptive war can be made in the absence of unambiguous intelligence. This is not hypothetical: Whoever wins November's election may face a similar dilemma. Extremist anti-American governments or terrorists may acquire weapons of mass destruction, and neither al Qaeda nor the rulers of Iran and North Korea are inclined to transparency. The case of Iraq has shown that it is possible that the intelligence on which a war decision may be based may later prove to be mostly wrong. Does that mean the president cannot act in such cases? That's a question Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry would do well to discuss.