IN MARCH 2003 Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, of the UN, secured a remarkable, last-minute deal that averted war and seemed to guarantee the disarmament of Iraq.Read all of Gerard Baker's alternative history.
In Oslo there was talk of a Nobel Peace prize.
Over the following months Arab terrorist groups demanded the expulsion of infidels from Muslim lands and a series of attacks sapped the morale of allied servicemen and women.
The reporters were not allowed to see that Saddam was channelling the money to terrorist groups around the world, as he had before March 2003.
At the notorious Abu Ghraib prison: the sort of abuses that Saddam and his sons had always most enjoyed: the rapes, beatings and brutal murders of innocents. There were no congressional hearings or judicial proceedings. Saddam’s torture-mongers faced not a trial but promotion and honours.
Syria tightened its grip on Lebanon, with targeted murders and intimidation. To distract attention from their own abuses, tyrants continued to support the Palestinian intifada against the Israelis, which grew steadily more murderous.
In Iran the theocrats’ regime interpreted Saddam’s reprieve as a green light. (cont)