Skip to comments.The Jordan Chemical Plot
Posted on 04/21/2004 7:39:58 AM PDT by Lando Lincoln
When the history of the Iraq War is ultimately written the major criticism of President Bush may not be that he moved too soon, but that he waited too long. He had the best of intentions, of course. Prime Minister Blair and Secretary Powell, among others, thought it was best to go through the UN. So did American public opinion. So did opposition Democrats and much of the American foreign policy establishment. There was no need to, rush to war, the opponents of conflict repeatedly assured Americans. But they were wrong.
After David Kay, the former head of the Iraqi Survey Group (the organization charged with leading the search for Saddams weapons) resigned and declared that he was unable to find any weapons of mass destruction, the media jumped all over his remarks to discredit the Bush Administration and imply that the weapons were nothing more than the fabrication of a neo-con cabal. What they very scrupulously ignored were Dr. Kays remarks as to what he thought had happened to at least some of those weapons: they were transferred to Syria.
Dr. Kay told Britains Daily Telegraph that, we know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam's WMD programme. According to some reports, Iraqi WMD crossed over into Syria at the Al Qaim border crossing in January and February of 2003. We didnt move too soon: we waited too long.
Our greatest fear in this war is that rogue states will combine with terrorists, providing them with weapons of mass destruction. It has happened. Last month Jordanian security officials rounded up an al-Qaeda cell which was preparing to launch a mass-casualty attack against the capital city of Amman. The arrests occurred after the terrorists crossed the border from Syria with explosives and other raw material for the attack. Had they not been stopped, they would have launched the worst terrorist attack in the history of the world, murdering up to 20,000 people.
Reports suggest that the chemical agent to be used in the attack was VX Nerve Gas, perhaps the most deadly of all such weapons. The main attack planned would have involved four trucks: three filled with high explosives and one filled with Nerve Gas. All four would have been destroyed in a massive explosion but, because nerve gases survive at high temperatures, it would have generated a poisonous cloud which would have killed thousands or tens of thousands of people.
Where would this Nerve Gas have come from? I waited to write about this until someone stated the type of gas: some chemical weapons are almost comically easy to make. VX is not one of them. A state apparatus is required to make such an agent. Two nations in the Middle East are known to have possessed such capabilities at one time: Syria and Iraq. However, the exact abilities of the Syrians remain a mystery. Those of Iraq do not. It was VX that the Iraqis used at Halabja in 1988 to murder more than five thousands Kurds.
Additionally, even if the Syrians possessed VX nerve gas, why would they allow their own stockpiles to be used to launch an attack against Jordan? An attack which, even if it were successful, certainly result in an American invasion of their nation? The answer: they wouldnt. But, is there a chance that they might allow Iraqs former weapons to be transported through their country for such a purpose? There certainly is. After all, such a move could probably be pulled off by individuals within the Syrian military and terror apparatus, without the knowledge or authority of the Syrian leadership (who, I presume, keep close control of their own WMD arsenal).
This makes sense. Think about it for a moment. What other scenario is there to explain the absence of weapons of mass destruction in post-war Iraq? We know that these weapons existed at one point: they were actually used, both against Iran and against Iraqi civilians. They existed in 1991, after the war, when some quantity of them was actually turned over to United Nations inspectors. What happened to the rest?
It cannot be, as some have suggested, that Iraq simply stopped its program of its own accord. The programs were too big, too massive. Even if they were stopped, some residual trace of them would exist. Yet almost no such traces have been found. No misplaced shells, no talkative scientists. This program hasnt simply been allowed to atrophy: its been scrubbed from existence in a fashion that only totalitarian dictatorships are capable of. Just as enemies of the people were erased from Soviet records, so too were the weapons of Saddam erased. In totality.
So what happened? Did Saddam get rid of his weapons and simply not tell the world? Why would he do that? If hes going to tell the world he had weapons, then he might as well keep them. Was he deceived by his own scientists? Impossible: wed have already learned of it by now. Any secret known by more than a handful of people will rapidly become public knowledge, especially in a place like post-war Iraq. And faking-out Saddam would have required the involvement of hundreds of people: people who would have had far more to gain from ratting out their friends to Saddam than they would have gained from keeping quiet. Its simply impossible.
What then? Where did they go? The answer is obvious: Iraqs reduced arsenal was moved somewhere and hidden for safe-keeping and most of those involved in this project were killed afterwards. The actual size of these chemical munitions is actually rather small: they could have been trucked somewhere and hidden by a relative handful of people. Its entirely possible that the people involved could have even been deceived as to the true nature of their cargo.
Why would Saddam do this? Isnt it obvious? He thought America was weak and would be unable to stand up to the rigors of combat. In retrospect his strategy was obvious. Forget about fighting open-field battles with American tanks like in 1991, then fight like hell for Baghdad. Make it into a Stalingrad-style battle and then wait for the peace movement, the United Nations, Europe, and everyone else to force Bush to abandon the war. Its not even a bad strategy, if hed had the forces to fight it.
If the Special Republican Guard and Republican Guard units detailed for Baghdad had fought as well as a First World army, how many American dead would there have been? Hundreds? Thousands? How many Iraqi civilian dead, especially if Saddam were to (as he surely would have) cruelly use his civil population as fodder? Tens of thousands? More than a hundred thousand? It could have turned into a fiasco, with panicky, limp-wristed Republicans abandoning the President, Democrats attacking, and some sort of settlement forced.
Why wouldnt Saddam have used his chemical weapons, instead of hiding them? The answer to that seems obvious as well: it would have ruined his plans. The Iraqi use of chemical weapons would have stiffened US resolve and possibly helped to unite much of the rest of the world. Moreover, in 1991, Secretary of States James Baker warned the Iraqis that, if they used chemical weapons, the United States would respond with nuclear ones. Surely Saddam remembered this as well. His strategy depending upon winning the good will of the terror-appeasing world and their friends in America and any use of weapons of mass destruction would have undermined that.
To make things even more interesting, the plot was reportedly hatched by Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi, the senior al-Qaeda official in Iraq. I thought that Baathists and Islamists could never work together? Never mind. Thats just one of those quaint media perennials, like the pre-war predictions of a humanitarian crisis and their cries about the fierce Afghan winter and the unbearable Iraqi summer. Frankly, Im convinced that the media fully believes that anyone in danger of being deprived of instant access to French cuisine is in the throes of a horrible humanitarian crisis and that any weather hotter or colder than a mild autumn day in New York City is so inhospitable as to make our Armed Forces useless.
The need to strike Iraq was manifest. We may excuse that President Bush delayed action, given the circumstances: but we must not forget. If wed invaded Iraq in the fall of 2002, the odds of catching their weapons and stopping their spread would have been much higher. Tyrants do not work on the schedule of the United Nations or, for that matter, that of the Congress. As Democrats screamed for America not to rush to war Saddam rushed his weapons from his country. We must never forget.
If Syria is complicit in this, it is time to teach them a lesson. The forces for an invasion and occupation of Syria might, at the present time, be unavailable- but that doesnt mean that we cant blow up a lot of stuff, kill a lot of people, and fund the internal subversion of the country. It is worth remembering that Britain didnt bother conquering or colonizing every little African or Oriental despotism that annoyed it and neither should America. Theres no need for an occupation when a few days of terror raids will do. Destroy the Syrian governing complex, burn the homes of their leaders, and destroy their (valuable to them) Air Force. Then arm any Kurds who want to make trouble in that country. That ought to be sufficient. But dont wait until the UN says that its ok- dont even bother asking them to comment.
Forget about what John Kerry will have to say: if it were up to John Kerry, Saddam would still be in charge of Iraq today and al-Qaeda would be growing as they laughed away American subpoenas and Grand Juries. Attacking Iraq and al-Qaeda will (and has) brought retaliation and death, but inaction would have eventually brought death beyond imagination. They are forced into operating together because they are both weaker and they are desperate.
It is worth remembering that the highest casualty tolls of the Second World War came at the end, as the German and Japanese homelands were assaulted, and not at the beginning. Similarly, the greatest losses of the Civil War occurred not in the months after Fort Sumter, but during Grants campaign to crush the Army of Northern Virginia. The horrible losses of August 1914 were later dwarfed by the horrors of the Somme. One of the prices of defeating an enemy is loss, terror, and destruction. However, to not confront that enemy merely postpones the date of battle. In our war against the terrorists each day on which the terrorists could have lived in relative peace was a day for them to grow stronger. Each day that Saddam remained in Baghdad was a day for the sanctions to fail a little more, for Saddam to recover his power a little more, and for the danger to grow a little more.
Remember, it is we who shall be blamed now if something does happen. John Kerry will not let fear of being accused of hypocrisy get in the way of, following an attack on Jordan, blaming President Bush for not acting to destroy Saddams weapons. The media, of course, will report any such charges seriously and credulously. We are in command. We must act.
Will everything go right? Of course not. But the worst possible consequences of action are preferable to the worst possible results of inaction. Those busy criticizing how things have gone in Iraq are working from the mythical assumption that, somehow, everything in war (or in life, for that matter) can go right. Of course, the sensible see the folly in this. Intelligence cant always be right. Actions will not always have the predicted result.
Forget what the media says, forget what your half-informed friends say, forget what Republicans eager to win the plaudits of the left say: we are winning in Iraq and will go on winning so long as we maintain our resolve. Our forces are unstoppable by any means which are in the possession of our enemies. We can only be defeated if we defeat ourselves.
However, you missed a very key point: The U.S. is not united. We are split right down the middle. If the next election goes to John Kerry the war on terror will be lost.
President Bush does not have the freedom to act that this article presupposes.
Of course not. That's an absurd and simplistic statement, most likely intended as an insult.
The United States is the only nation with both the power and the will to stand up to the Islamists. However, Kerry is weak, and perceived as such by the Islamists. That weakness will lead to both a stronger enemy and a weaker U.S.
It would not happen instantly, but the end result would be disastrous.
How to end the War on Terror!
You realize that Democrats in WWI and WWII were completely different than the Dems of today, don't you?
Harry Truman would throw up at John Kerry.
Cassandra aside, 'losing' the war on terror is as amorphous a concept as winning it.
As far as "losing" the war on terror is concerned, it is not an amorphous concept at all. Unless you do not mind being forced to convert to Islam and living under Sharia law.
Wake up and smell the coffee.
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