Just in case you forgot, in March last year, the presidential commission concluded that Saddam had no WMDs and that the widespread belief to the contrary was due to the US intelligence community's inability to communicate intelligence.

The conclusion that there were no WMDs in Iraq confirmed the findings of the IAEA in 2003 who, after many months combing the entire surface of Iraq and digging deep into Saddam's weapon manufacturing facilities, declared that there were probably no WMDs in Iraq. So why, you might ask, did the U.S. government ignore the opinion of a group of scientists who had spent many years working in the field of WMDs and their proliferation? In hindsight, the answer is quite clear - without WMDs there could be no reason for an invasion of Iraq. With Iran now in their sights, it is perhaps appropriate therefore that we take a look at some of the more crass techniques that were used by members of the Bush administration in an attempt to deceive the world. Perhaps we'll learn something...

As the first few weeks and months of 2003 passed, the job of convincing the world that Saddam posed a deadly threat to the world was getting more and more difficult for members of the Bush administration. At one point, Rumsfeld hit on what he believed to be an ingenious approach:
Rumsfeld: Lack of evidence could mean Iraq's hiding something
Rumsfeld was actually claiming that the IAEA report, which stated that there were no WMDs in Iraq, was actually evidence in itself that Saddam really did have WMDs.

Rumsfeld stated:
"The fact that the inspectors have not yet come up with new evidence of Iraq's WMD program could be evidence, in and of itself, of Iraq's noncooperation," we do know that Iraq has designed its programs in a way that they can proceed in an environment of inspections and that they are skilled at denial and deception." Rumsfeld said the United States and the United Nations have no obligation to prove that Iraq has continued efforts to develop nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Instead, he said, Iraq must prove that it has abandoned them.
Imagine if we were to apply this logic in a criminal investigation. In such a case, anyone could accuse anyone else of a crime, using the fact that there is no evidence that they committed the crime as evidence that they did commit a crime, based on the idea that people are quite inventive and also often lie, so the person is probably lying and has probably hidden the evidence that they committed the crime. Not only that, but the person themselves must prove to the court that they did not commit the crime. If they cannot prove this, then they are guilty of committing the crime. Sounds a little unreasonable, does it not? Former Press Secretary, Ari Fleischer, got in on the act too with similarly bizarre logic when he stated in July 2003:
"I think the burden is on those people who think he didn't have weapons of mass destruction to tell the world where they are."
Needless to say, the mangled thinking coming out of the White House was evidence that the Bush administration was getting kinda antsy at the whole "lack of WMDs" argument. So what to do? Well, when in doubt, call in the spooks. Surely 'the agency', possessing some of America's most fervent patriots, could be relied on to perform above and beyond the call of duty and come up with the goods? Just to make doubly sure, Dick Cheney stormed over to CIA headquarters, not once, not twice, but ten times in the months prior to the Iraq invasion to offer some "direction". Now that the IAEA had to some extent put the kabosh on the "Saddam has WMD" angle, Cheney decided that a Saddam-Osama link was the next best thing. Based on evidence for the Bush administration having actively fabricated Iraq war intelligence, we offer the following as a proposed reconstruction of one of those twelve conversations between Cheney and then CIA director George Tenet:

Cheney: "So Saddam and Osama were buddies, right?

Tenet: Er..."no, not really, more like enemies actually"

(Cheney's blood pressure shoots up a few bars.)

Cheney: "OK, what about Al-Zarqawi, didn't he get treatment at a Baghdadhospital?"

Tenet: "Em... sort of"

Cheney: "Well then, that's it! They're obviously in bed together!"

Tenet: "Well, ok, just as long as they are in separate beds and the beds aren't in the same room, or even the same house. In fact, al-Zarqawi is happier spending time in bed with the Iraqi Kurds, you know, the ones that are in direct opposition to Saddam."

At this point, Cheney blows his top his face crimson his jowls quivering with rage:

Cheney: "Look, what you need to provide is politically acceptable results, Prime Minister Sharon and the guys in the Pentagon will not accept any conclusions that show that Saddam poses no threat to the U.S. and is not involved with any terrorist network! OK!?"

Tenet slinks off, feeling strangely disturbed as a result of his encounters with the Vice President.

Well, the CIA dutifully tried their best, but, in the end, the job of making a case for Saddam's WMD's was just too far "out there" for even the most imaginative minds in the CIA. The problem you see was the complete lack of evidence. It's one thing to ask your spooks to "skew" the evidence, but what if there isn't even any evidence to skew?

Former CIA Chief George Tenet realised that, while he had a responsibility to support the megalomaniacal cravings of the Washington Neocons, he also had the CIA's reputation to think of. He was understandably reluctant to make his agency synonymous with dodgy intelligence, and he perhaps had some precognition that, if, or rather when, the whole thing blew up in their faces, the Neocons would surely pass the buck. Which, as we have seen, is exactly what the Presidential Commission did. In the end, Colin Powell was forced to humiliate himself at the UN in February 2003 by presenting an inevitably pathetic case for an invasion of Iraq which included badly drawn pictures and a plagiarized grad student essay.

Of course, that didn't stop the invasion of Iraq from going ahead. Once the war had been "won", the Bush administration turned their attention back to the intelligence agencies that had "failed" them, ousting Tenet before instituting a radical overhaul and placing Bush-man Porter Goss in the top position. So we see that it was indeed a "failure" by American intelligence agencies, but it was not a failure to communicate intelligence but rather a failure to manufacture evidence that would convince the world that Saddam was a threat.

But lessons have certainly been learned by the Bush war mongers. Even with the all-new subservient intelligence apparatus, the Bush government is disinclined to attempt to engage in the same kind of crass attempts to fabricate evidence to justify an attack on their next target - Iran. The American and world public, while gullible, are not entirely moronic and cannot be trusted to sit back and swallow the same lies as before. This time, "proof" that Iran is worthy of its place in the "axis of evil" is needed.

The recent saber rattling from Israel about Iran reaching the the point of no return (mid March) in the manufacturing of a nuclear bomb has already provided the pretext for that proof. If that sway the masses, there is always history. Israeli leaders have felt no shame in making use of the Jewish Holocaust to effectively silence any opposition to Israel's modern-day expansionist plans, plans that were, we are told, merely for the purpose of securing a homeland for the Jewish people. As such, it cannot be long before the term "Hitler of the Middle East", once used against Saddam, is directed at the Iranian President, particularly since he himself has all but asked for the label by making his bizarre public statement that Israel should be "wiped off the map". In fact, google search results on 'Iran' and 'Hitler' show that the comparison is already well-established in some media circles. Yet as it was with Saddam and his WMDs, behind the scenes, the reality of the situation is rather different.

The promise of 'mutually ensured destruction' from nuclear war between nuclear warhead-equipped nations has successfully prevented any such conflagration to date, and the same logic applies to any future nuclear-equipped Iran Vs Israel. The real problem with Iran joining the 'big boys club' is that it would dethrone Israel as the singular dominant force in the Middle East, a position that has permitted it to disregard the rights of its Arab neighbors and essentially threaten them into submission and acceptance of its expansionist policies. Of course, publicly, Israel cannot go to war on such an rationale, hence the "Iranian Hitler" remark and John Bolton's recent comment that Bush is worried that a nuclear-equipped Iran under its current leadership "could well engage in a nuclear holocaust."

From the American point of view there are two very good reasons to attack Iran. The first is that they must always exhibit an unwavering support for Israel because, if they don't, Israel might let loose a few secrets. The second is that, come March (coincidentally the same time as Israel's point of no return will be passed), Iran allegedly plans to start trading oil in Euros forcing other nations to start dumping their dollars reserves leading to a possible collapse of the American economy and all that that would entail.

So how exactly might things develop over the next few months?

One possible scenario is that Iran, feeling vulnerable as the "point of no return" and the threatened Israeli attack on its infrastructure and nuclear facilities approaches, will attack Israel first. An alternative to this scenario is that Israel will attack itself and blame Iran, and before anyone can say 'Allahu Akbar' and find out what really happened, Israel will retaliate and the U.S. will be 'forced' to protect its interests in the Middle East. American ships in the Persian Gulf, and troops in Iraq, will be targeted by Iranian missiles. Of course, we should not forget that the rest of the world, in particular Russia, China and Pakistan, have their own Middle Eastern strategic interests (oil, gas etc) to protect. Just what kind of response, if any, an American-Israeli attack on Iran would elicit from the other major global players is also beyond reckoning at this point in time.

What can be said with some degree of surety however is that, as with all other manipulated wars of the last few hundred years of human history, the proposed opening up of the long-simmering Middle East conflict is sure not to disappoint the gods of war, and may prove to be the real "war to end all wars", but only because few will be left alive to continue on such an inhuman tradition.