Skip to comments.Bush called Saddam's bluff
Posted on 08/11/2003 12:44:39 PM PDT by knighthawk
Evidence that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction could theoretically emerge any day. But it has now been almost four months since Baghdad fell, and U.S. specialists have already combed the most likely WMD sites several times over. All they have turned up are a few false alarms -- such as the trucks that were once thought to be biological weapons labs, and barrels of suspicious looking goo that turned out to be just plain goo. War supporters have to prepare themselves for the eventual admission that Iraq, as attacked, was likely WMD-free.
This admission should not be particularly toxic. The legal basis for war was never that Saddam had WMDs, but that he'd flouted the many Security Council resolutions requiring him to come clean on inspections, and that he had never accounted for the WMD precursor materials we know he purchased. As for the moral justification, it is already crystal clear. Dozens of mass graves have been found, and thousands of Iraqis have come forward to tell stories of torture and unimaginable brutality under Saddam. The mere fact WMDs aren't found won't change the reality that the dictator's ouster has made the world, and Iraq in particular, a far better place.
Unfortunately, such dispassionate analysis is difficult in the current climate. The furor surrounding George W. Bush's now-famous state-of-the-union claim about African uranium, combined with the David Kelly scandal in Britain, have turned the debate into a black-and-white affair: According to war critics, Tony Blair and Mr. Bush can will be vindicated only if WMDs are discovered. If none are found, the faulty logic goes, the two men must have taken their countries to war under false pretenses. By insisting on the dubious and increasingly desperate-sounding claim that WMDs will eventually turn up, war boosters are debating the anti-war crowd on these unfair terms -- raising the ante on a bad bet they seem likely to lose.
A better strategy would be to acknowledge the truth: Saddam may not have had WMDs, but he convincingly tricked the world into thinking he did.
Why would a dictator fool two major Western powers into invading his country? A clue comes from an Associated Press report filed last Friday. According to a "close aide" to Saddam interviewed by AP, the Iraqi dictator kept the world guessing because he wanted to look strong in the eyes of other nations. The unidentified source reported "it was common knowledge among the leadership" that Saddam had destroyed his WMDs. But, he said, "[Saddam] repeatedly told me: 'These foreigners, they respect only strength, they must be made to believe we are strong.' "
In the end, the source told AP, Saddam never really thought the United States would follow through on its threats. He didn't understand how 9/11 had changed things. Like other dictators in decline, Saddam had surrounded himself with yes-men who gave him the ignorant advice he wanted to hear.
This account is consistent with the reports of Nimrod Raphaeli, an Iraqi-born analyst at the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute. As Mr. Raphaeli shows, the official Iraqi press served up an abundance of hints that Iraqi scientists were doing "important work" in the field of WMD research. In late 2001, for instance, Babil, a Baghdad daily newspaper then owned by Saddam's son Uday, reported on a meeting of the Iraqi Nuclear Energy Authority during which Saddam "praised the initiatives of those warriors present and their innovations in the areas of their specializations."
Such deliberately provocative pronouncements, coupled with Saddam's refusal to permit weapons inspections from 1998 to 2002, and his half-hearted acquiescence thereafter, were the critical factors that led to Gulf War II. Simply put, Saddam sought to fool the world into thinking he still had a powerful WMD program -- and he succeeded brilliantly. Even the intelligence agencies of France and Germany, whose governments so vehemently opposed the war, believed Saddam was hiding something.
Through his ruse, Saddam forced Messrs. Blair and Bush to decide between war and acceptance of the risk that Iraq's madman really was building deadly toys. Faced with this choice, and given the information they had, the two leaders correctly concluded the costs of inaction far outweighed the costs of military conflict. Thus was a just war fought and won, no matter what the victors find in the sand.
Jonathan Kay is editorials editor.; firstname.lastname@example.org
Flouted no doubt because of the massive support he was getting from the massive anti liberation rallies, human shields, France, germany etc etc...Just imagine if the world actually got on his ass? Might not have been a different story, but all these mutts screaming about the WMD thing got absolutely no moral right to say anything. You embolden a tyrant against the UN, an act that led to war, your hands are far from clean baby, so shut TFU
I'm is gots some poor grammar!!
An unsigned CIA memo on Oct. 5 advised that "the CIA had reservations about the British reporting" on Iraq's alleged attempts in Niger, Hadley said. A second memo, sent on Oct. 6, elaborated on the CIA's doubts, describing "some weakness in the evidence," such as the fact that Iraq already had a large stock of uranium and probably wouldn't need more, Hadley said.They doubted the Niger story because they knew he already had uranium? What kind of logic is that? For those that state this uranium was not enriched, I remind you of the centrifuge in the rose garden and the IAEA's own report which it misrepresented...
Dolley, citing IAEAs own inspection reports as documentation, said: Iraq has never surrendered to inspectors its two completed designs for a nuclear bomb, nuclear-bomb components such as explosive lenses and neutron initiators that it is known to have possessed, or almost any documentation of its efforts to enrich uranium to bomb-grade using gas centrifuges, devices which are small and readily concealed from reconnaissance.
Moreover, IAEA has previously conceded that Iraqs weaponization R&D---small-scale technical research devoted to the design of a nuclear bombs components---is not readily detected by means of inspections. IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei stated in 1998 that no matter how comprehensive the inspection, any country-wide verification process, in Iraq or anywhere else, has a degree of uncertainty that aims to verify the absence of readily concealable objects such as small amounts of nuclear material or weapons components.
The IAEAs own guidelines for the safeguarding of highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium gives the conversion time for transforming these materials into weapons components as on the order of seven to ten days or one to three weeks, depending on the form the materials are in (metal, oxide or nitrate) when the materials are acquired by means of diversion or theft. Thus, Iraq could be capable of producing a nuclear weapon in less than a month with sufficient diverted or stolen fissile material if it has managed to fabricate and conceal all of the non-nuclear components of a weapon.