「Japan Quality Review」2015年11月号より加筆・修正。
Curveball’s Deadly Sin
Secretary Powell explaining chemical weapons to the United Nations Security Council.
A curve; a bent line. In baseball, you have the curve ball, a change-up pitch.
Not many people know that this perfectly ordinary word was in fact the primary culprit not only in the rise of ISIS, but in triggering the U.S. military’s March 2003 invasion of Iraq, which lead to the present chaos in the Middle East.
“Curveball,” in short, was the code name of an Iraqi defector, liar and con man, though “screwball” more clearly conveys the disquieting nuance behind the name.
Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the Bush administration asserted that Iraq, under then-president Saddam Hussein, was behind the destruction.
That led to the administration declaring that the Iraqi government was in possession of weapons of mass destruction, and in March 2003, the U.S. allied with the British, under the Blair administration, to launch its invasion of Iraq in an attempt to find those weapons.
Prior to that, on February 5 of the same year, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, the man in practical charge of the Iraq invasion and the former U.S.’s top uniformed official, spoke for a full hour at the United Nations in an appeal for the legitimacy of the invasion. The almost farcical, trumped-up claims by Curveball of the existence of chemical weapons were provided as justification.
In his autobiography, “It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership,” (Harper; available in Japanese from Asuka Publishing) Secretary Powell confessed that he looked back on this mistake as a date that “is as burned into my memory as my own birthday.” This was not unlike Secretary McNamara’s confession in his own autobiography that the U.S. invasion of Vietnam (1965-1973) had been also been a mistake. Subsequently, both the Bush and Blair administrations publicly acknowledged that the Iraqi invasion had been a misstep.
Meanwhile, back in Japan. In December 2003, the Japanese government under then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi began the dispatch of self-defense forces to Iraq, a process that progressed gradually through July of 2009.
The secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party at the time was none other than Shinzo Abe, Japan’s current prime minister.
Abe, in other words, was in position to have close knowledge of the folly represented by the U.S. military’s invasion of Iraq. And what do you know—on July 1, 2014, as head of the Cabinet, he decided that Japan would exercise its right of collective self-defense under his government’s interpretation of the Constitution.
Under the three new conditions for exercising this right, Abe stated in an April 29, 2014 speech before the United States Congress that Japan would respond proactively to armed attacks not only on Japan, but on countries with a close relationship with Japan—in other words, the U.S.
In the wee hours of September 19, he made good on that commitment with the passing of security legislation based on falsified minutes of a special committee of the Diet’s upper house.