Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The Economist Gets Letters


SIR – You take to task the spies and politicians in Britain and America who have, you say, misled their publics about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction (“Wielders of mass deception?”, October 4th). Should you not also include yourselves? In making the case for war, you repeatedly spoke of those weapons as though it were a proven fact that they existed. You asserted that Saddam Hussein “has been building stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons for 20 years, and is trying to develop nuclear weapons too” (“Pre-empting threats, threatening pre-emption”, September 28th 2002). Earlier you had said: “To those who, when told that Iraq is a mortal threat to the peace of the world, say ‘prove it’, the only sane reply is: what more proof could anyone need?” (“Confronting Iraq”, September 14th 2002). You dismissed anybody who might “swallow” Mr Hussein's plea that he had no proscribed weapons as “either a fool or a knave” (“Burden of proof”, February 8th). Now you coyly say that The Economist was not among the very few people who believed that Mr Hussein had given up his weapons. Shouldn't you have the guts to admit that you helped to propagate the very “exaggerations” that you now lay at the door of spies and politicians?

Michael Alvear