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Sunday, March 02, 2003

Attack of the heavyweight hawks

Amazingly, you can predict a country's policy on Iraq from how fat its people are. The Bush administration draws its support, at least in the developed world, from the countries with the fattest populations.

If you look at this 2002 health report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, what's striking is how close the correlation is.

Starting at the left hand side of Chart 5 "Obesity in the adult population across OECD countries", the least fat members of the OECD club are, in order:


They are all also at the peacenik end of the spectrum on Iraq.

It's only when we get to medium-fat Spain that support for immediate war becomes a serious option. Then, as we move towards the developed world's most obese nations, the US and UK, the tone gets yet more hawkish.

This is clear from looking at the fat end of the OECD list, which is, in order:

Czech Republic
New Zealand
United Kingdom
United States

There are some exceptions that make the hawks/obesity correlation less than perfect. Canada and New Zealand only fit the pattern in general terms. Both sent troops to Afghanistan and the first Persian Gulf War, but have reservations on this occasion.

Canada objects strongly to the US doctrine on regime change. It has said it won't send ground troops to Iraq, but may send other forces once the war is underway. New Zealand is likely to stay on the sidelines.

Nonetheless, the relationship is striking. The fatter its population the more ready a nation seems to be to commit troops to this war.

Background on OECD figures

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Iraq may have got rid of weapons already

The vast majority of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were destroyed soon after the Gulf War, according to a defector who has been publicly praised by Bush, Blair and Powell. What's more the Americans and British have known this since 1995, but have been keeping strangely silent about it.

These allegations have been made by Glen Rangwala, the Cambridge University lecturer who caused a furore recently by revealing that a UK government briefing paper on Iraq supposedly based on intelligence sources was plagiarised from an article written by a student.

The defector was General Hussein Kamel (also spelt Kamal), a son-in-law of President Saddam Hussein and former head of Iraq's secret weapons programme. He was killed when he returned to Baghdad in 1996.

Rangwala has got hold of the transcript of a debriefing of between Kamel and UN weapon inspectors in Jordan in August 1995. In it Kamal tells the inspectors what happened to Iraq's nerve gas and anthrax, and its nuclear and missile programmes.

Worldnet Daily plays this revelation up

as does The Scotsman

The Washington Post plays it down

as does The Guardian

And here's the transcript itself and Glen Ringwala's comments on it.

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