According to a newly published book, George W. Bush and Tony Blair ignored a report from South Africa that provided evidence that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, and preceded with their invasion of Iraq anyway.
God, Spies, and Lies, a new book written by South African journalist John Matisonn, describes how South African President Thabo Mbeki attempted in vain to deter the United States from invading Iraq. President Bush reportedly ignored unique intelligence gathered by South Africa, and ignored Mbeki’s warning that toppling Saddam would be disastrous.
Mbeki’s office confirmed Matisonn’s findings, and further confirmed that Mbeki offered to act as an intermediary between Iraq and the United States, in order to secure peace.
South Africa gained unique insight into Iraq’s WMD potential when the two governments worked together in the 1980s on South Africa’s nuclear and chemical weapons program, Project Coast. Project Coast was abandoned when the Apartheid government fell in 1994, but was resurrected by Mbeki as means to investigate the United States’s claim that Iraq possessed WMDs.
Mbeki, who maintained positive relations with both the US and the UK during his presidency, informed Blair and Bush of the new Project Coast. Mbeki got the investigative project approved by Hussein and had unlimited access to the Iraqi weapons programs. The Iraqi government welcomed Project Coast investigators into the country, and the thorough investigation showed no evidence of any WMDs.
In 2003, Mbeki revealed his findings to both Bush and Blair, who ignored the evidence and proceeded with the invasion. Mbeki’s presentation also warned that if Saddam Hussein was removed, there would be national resistance and opposing rebel forces.
Blair and Bush both met with Mbeki on multiple occasions, both as a group and independently. Although other countries claimed Iraq had WMDs, South Africa was in a unique position as a former ally and collaborator that was welcomed into the country and had full access.
South African politicians were stunned that Bush and Blair completely ignored their intelligence. Nelson Mandela, who was the president of South Africa before Mbeki, reportedly called up Bush and Blair multiple times to plead with them not to invade Iraq. After he was repeatedly ignored, Mandela publicly said that “Bush doesn’t know how to think.”
Although Bush has not commented on the new evidence, Blair has already apologized for leading the UK to invade Iraq. Blair apologized in preparation of the Chilcot Report, which investigates the UK’s involvement in the Iraq war, and the war’s effect on the rise of ISIS. The report will be released in 2016.
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