Skip to comments.A smoking gun may be elusive, but proof of intent abounds
Posted on 07/19/2003 1:51:57 PM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl
A smoking gun may be elusive,
but proof of intent abounds
July 19 2003
The case for removing Saddam Hussein was based on his 12 years of defying the UN and intelligence on his weapons capability, writes Tony Parkinson.
Critics of military intervention in Iraq got much of their pre-war intelligence wrong. The 250,000 deaths predicted did not happen. Nor the refugee crisis. Nor the cholera epidemic. Baghdad did not become a replay of Stalingrad, nor was the Arab world set aflame.
To make this point is not to accuse opponents of the war of lies, deception or propaganda. Doubtless, many of these same people would be greatly relieved that some of the more exaggerated pre-war fears were to prove unfounded.
For others, however, the war over Iraq is far from over. Just as Saddam's "bitter-enders" are mounting a ferocious guerilla campaign against US forces in an effort to sabotage moves towards economic reconstruction and political reform, so too are revisionists on the march in the US, Britain and Australia. Their aim? To discredit the war in Iraq as unjustified and immoral.
On the basis of a disputed British Government claim that Iraq had sought to buy uranium in Africa, there is an attempt under way to rewrite the record to read something like this: leaders of three of the world's oldest democracies lied to their people about the reasons for going to war; concocted evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; and exaggerated the nature of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's regime in order to provoke conflict.
It is becoming the mother of all conspiracy theories, worthy of a Comical Ali. That it appears to be gaining traction - and not just among the partisan critics of George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard - goes to show just how out of touch with reality the debate has become.
The case for deposing Saddam was based on a 12-year history of his regime defying UN resolutions demanding the dismantling of his illegal weapons programs. It also relied on virtual unanimity in the global intelligence community that Iraq had WMD, and the capability to build more.
After UN inspectors were expelled from Iraq in 1998, these suspicions were founded on the inherently plausible assumption that Saddam's regime had not destroyed, without anyone knowing, the weapons it already had.
So where are these weapons today?
There is some talk of massive underground bunkers in the so-called Sunni triangle north of Baghdad. There are rumours of materials having been sent by rail or road to Syria. But there is no hard evidence in the public domain.
This is perplexing and troubling. Not just because it is embarrassing to Washington, London and Canberra, but also because it suggests a dangerous gap in knowledge.
In a recent article, a former chief UN inspector in Iraq, Rolf Ekeus, explained why the debate on Iraq's WMD should broaden beyond the fascination with rusting drums of chemical munitions, and focus instead on the infrastructure: "This combination of researchers, engineers, know-how, precursors, batch production techniques and testing is what constituted Iraq's chemical threat."
The discovery last month of parts of a gas centrifuge and blueprints for uranium enrichment - buried for 12 years in the garden of a prominent Iraqi scientist - should be seen in the same light: not as evidence of an active nuclear weapons program, but as a vital clue to what arms control experts call a "breakout capability".
David Kay heads the Iraqi Survey Group, the team of 1200 scientists flown into Iraq to unravel the mystery of the vanishing weapons programs.
This week, he told American TV how his specialists had learnt of large-scale movements of suspect materials before and during the war.
They had uncovered myriad cases of documents and equipment stored at private homes. They had found purchasing records, progress reports. But a key concern was whether their detective work had come too late to prevent leakage of know-how, if not weapons themselves, beyond Iraq. If anything has the ingredients for a genuine scandal, it is this element to the saga.
Kay is promising comprehensive answers within six months. The story is destined to become much bigger, whatever his findings.
By Christmas, one suspects, the issue of whether Saddam's little helpers went shopping for uranium in Africa will be seen in its true perspective - as little more than a historical footnote.
Ekeus' comments re: Iraqi WMD, here and elsewhere, have made more sense to me than anything anybody else has said on the subject. Ekeus was chief inspector '91-'98. Seems to me that it was for good reason that he was the choice of Bush and Blair to run the last round of inspections. France, Germany, and Russia, however, wanted Blix, and they got him.
Yes it is. Thank you for the link to the GOP political links. Bookmarked.
Re. the new favorite theme, comparing the casualties of the Gulf War to today's war in Iraq:
Of course they did. Sigh. This administration is packed with enough good people to overcome the int'l wanker-socialists. What to do about the press?
It is clear that the current approval ratings of the administration are tied directly to strong American feelings toward traditional values, the talking points say. To counter this, doubt must be raised as to Americas true position within the world community and the true intent of the Bush administration in waging war. (ETC.)