In 1995, a qualified chemical engineer fled Iraq to Germany because he hated the regime of Saddam Hussein, it’s not known why he hated them, or what they had done to him but he saw an opportunity to gain German citizenship for himself and his family and bring down the Hussein regime at the same time. Asylum was granted to him, but with conditions; he needed to give German Intelligence (and they would give the US) certain information they wanted to hear. His codename was Curveball and the information he gave was perhaps the most expensive lie in history.
He said he had worked on mobile bioweapons and factories producing chemical weapons. It wasn’t true and this lie cost the world dearly. In financial terms, almost $2 trillion. In human cost, the lives of over 200,000 civilians were lost, people who were just unlucky enough to live in a region that the US wanted to take a war to. Almost 7 million people were displaced and now everyone in the world knows there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Curveball, or Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, admitted it was a lie. But the worst part of the lie was that he admitted this in 2000, three years before that fateful day when Colin Powell held up a vial of washing powder in the United Nations to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq, had weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
In interviews Curveball made in 2011 with the Guardian Newspaper he had this to say: “I had a problem with the Saddam regime,” and “I wanted to get rid of him and now I had this chance.” He also felt “there was no other way to bring about freedom to Iraq. There were no other possibilities.” Unfortunately, Iraq still isn’t free: Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilisation, as Iraq was once known, is now a shell of its former glory.
Putting aside the horrific price the civilian people of Iraq paid, the military figures are staggering. The US lost 4,431 personnel; coalition forces a further 4,799; Iraqi military deaths are confusing and uncertain but at least 16,000 soldiers and a further 26,000 “insurgents”, which many Iraqis know as freedom fighters were killed. The number of amputees isn’t clear but there are thousands and the number of traumatic brain injuries is well into the tens of thousands. Potentially, there may also be hundreds of thousands of cancers caused by chemicals or depleted uranium in weaponry. All this for a war that didn’t need to happen.
Fast forward 15 years and someone else is telling a story which is pushing the world in the direction of a war it doesn’t want or need. A modern-day Curveball called Adrian Zenz.
Intelligence Communities in the US, the UK, and other countries that were actively involved in starting the unneeded Iraq War, are lapping-up and amplifying a story about human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang. Unlike the original Curveball though, Zenz actually believes his lines. He’s been quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying he’s “led by God” to destroy communist China.
Wikipedia editors describe his work as “credible” and “supported by UN experts”, despite no real expert being sent to Xinjiang to check on these allegations. They also describe Chinese denials and corrections as a “disinformation campaign”. In other words, we have another intelligence community push to “prove beyond doubt” that there is a casus belli, or cause for war.
The problem here is that there is doubt; considerable doubt. These accusations have never been tested for their veracity, they’ve been taken as real from a man who, like “Curveball,” has clearly told the world he wants to destroy a regime he hates.
Since Zenz first produced his reports a most incredible circular referencing system has emerged. Zenz’s reports are seized upon by “think tanks” looking to create revenue streams by increasing the fear of China and therefore their commissions from the military industrial complex. These think tanks are amplified by media looking for opportunities to increase clicks and therefore advertising income. Politicians have jumped onto the anti-China bandwagon as a deflection from their own considerable domestic failures in coordinated bi-partisan effort to apportion blame onto China. Those same politicians gathering donations from the same military industrial complex as the think tanks, create legislation such as the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act in 2020; the Infrastructure Bill in 2021 or the China Competition Bill in 2022. Many of these Bills allocate millions of dollars in funds for negative press reports on China and the same media cashes in on creating them while the military industrial complex sees huge profits from significant government investments in new armaments needed to offset the fears created by this misinformation roundabout.
The world follows the story without questioning some obvious facts: Muslim countries aren’t buying into it, they’ve visited and didn’t see any human rights; every independent, or citizen journalist who visited Xinjiang has come away with pictures and videos of a stable open, friendly and steadily improving environment; more than 100 million tourists travel to the region every year and return home without reporting atrocities; thousands of social media influences operate within the region and are seen daily online; even film and sports stars come from the region, including recent Olympians.
Disregarding those millions of people who have visited the region, there’s a very large contingent of people who haven’t: not one of the human rights organisations chorusing the allegations; nor the United Nations debating the accusations; or the ambassadors of any country which has sanctioned, legislated against or passed motions criticising China, have bothered to visit the region to verify their accusations.
So, here’s the real curveball… There isn’t anyone on either side of the debate who has seen evidence of abuses in Xinjiang.
In 2004, the New York Times issued an admission that they were wrong. The editors admitted they had been misled on WMD with one stand-out quotation from them stating that they were encouraged to post stories by: “United States officials convinced of the need to intervene in Iraq”. In my opinion, sometime in the next year or two, they’ll be issuing another admission and then a lot of people will look very foolish indeed.