WMD Lies: Something Rotten in DK

“Weapons of Mass Destruction”: That was the mantra this political leader cited over and over in the run-up to the War in Iraq last spring, and to him Saddam Hussein’s possession of such weapons was the irrefutable fact justifying what was about to happen. This was despite the fact that this leader never really took the time to examine the supplied evidence on its own merits, to arrive at his own independent assessment of it. Now, of course, his government is trying to play down WMD, insisting that that was only one of the rationales given for toppling Hussein’s regime.

George W. Bush? Tony Blair? Of course. But I’m actually referring here specifically to Anders Fogh Rasmussen, prime minster of Denmark, according to the account entitled Denmark at War on a Lie in the Danish commentary newspaper Information. It looks like the Danish electorate is feeling similarly deceived (or, at least, has the right so to feel) as its American and British counterparts. And speaking of deception, you, dear reader, have just been hit once again with the time-honored journalistic trick of the non-specific article lead-in, taking you along what you think is familiar ground before suddenly swerving in a quite unexpected direction when specific details are finally supplied. What a great shtick!

Never mind that Denmark’s contribution to the War in Iraq was limited to two naval vessels, namely a corvette (i.e. a small surface ship, smaller than a frigate, bigger than a PT boat) and a submarine, and that no Danes have actually died in Iraq, either during the war or afterwards. (It’s true, though, that Danes have died in Afghanistan. A few Danish soldiers died along with some German ones in an ammunition-disarming accident a few months back. But Afghanistan is a different issue.) The point is that the Danish parliament explicitly voted just prior to the onset of the war to authorize Danish military involvement in the hostilities, even though opinion polls consistently showed Danish public opinion against such involvement.

It did so, of course, at the insistent urging of the government, whose almost-exclusive theme when it came to Iraq was “weapons of mass destruction.” Charlotte Aagaard’s piece in Information is itself actually derivative, as it takes most of its information from an investigative documentary radio program, to be given that very same evening (of last Saturday, 4 October) on “DR” or Danske Radio, the nationwide public radio network, entitled “Denmark at War – The Missing Weapons.” And the message, quite simply, is that when Rasmussen these days claims that WMD was just one reason given before the war justifying Danish involvement in it, he is lying. (Well, OK, he “speaks untruthfully” – [han] taler usandt.)

But that’s strange: The article itself (again, from information in the radio program) states that, at least once, Rasmussen did publicly broaden his rationale for war to include two other items: the brutal nature of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial regime and the potential getting rid of him had for contributing to a general Middle East peace settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. But this was only in a press-release issued just before the war started, last 18 March. So I guess those involved in the radio program, and Ms. Aagaard, regard that as simply too little, too late.

Rasmussen himself “did not have time” to contribute to the making of the radio program. But Danish foreign minister Per Stig Møller did, and said “I still believe that we had to say that enough was enough – and enough had to be enough after twelve years . . . so I believe that we did the right thing. I actually don’t believe that it could have been otherwise.”

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