Weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) are in the news again. If you believe the subject of WMDs is a dead horse that doesn’t need to be flogged any more, then I suggest you read some things in a lighter vein. But for the two of you who plan on reading this, break out your whips. This here dead horse is getting a good whuppin’!
On March 31st, 2005, the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction issued a report to President Bush saying that the intelligence agencies were “dead wrong” about Iraq and WMDs and that “this was a major intelligence failure.” Aha! This is vindication for all those people who said we were wrong to go into Iraq, right? Wrong. Mike Talley expressed his opinion that we had reasons to go into Iraq other than WMDs. Talley wrote “Oh Crap, My Intelligence Sucks!” just before the Iraqi elections:
I believe that the Iraq war was the right thing to do for the following reasons: the perceived threat of Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD’s), Saddam’s willingness to work/fund terrorism, the oppression of the Iraqi people, the hope that a democratic Iraq would help change the region and the eroding support for continuing sanctions. I also believe that the world is a better place and that the Iraqi people are better off with Saddam out of power and in prison.
WMDs were never the reason put forward by President Bush for removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq; they were merely a reason. But because the idea of an Iraqi nuke going off in New York or some chemical or biological attack at the Super Bowl was so easy to grasp, the press pushed the idea of WMDs as the single best reason to remove Hussein from Iraq. WMDs became such a good reason to invade Iraq because everyone could agree on it. Let me say that again: everyone agreed that Saddam Hussein had plans for WMDs.
My brother, who is in a position to follow and understand numerous governmental issues, doesn’t like the fact that we invaded Iraq and removed Hussein because we haven’t yet found any WMDs there. In his eyes, President Bush is an idiot. Well, if Bush is such an idiot for believing the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies, then so are all the other leaders of the world, who likewise were being told by their intelligence agencies about Hussein’s plans for WMDs. Years before President Bush was elected, President Clinton used Hussein’s WMDs as a reason to go before Congress and ask for authorization to enforce the U.N. resolutions passed after Hussein’s defeat in 1991.
So it seems the U.S. intelligence was mistaken, and Hussein didn’t have any WMDs when we invaded. Talley agrees with others that Hussein may not have had WMDs since 1991, but no one on his staff was willing to tell Mr. H that his beloved WMDs were gone. “It seems his scientists and weapons manufacturers feared telling Saddam that they no longer had the capability to produce WMD’s. After all, if you spill the beans that you can no longer do your job, well then, your position is no longer needed,” wrote Talley. Let’s assume for the nonce that Talley is correct, and Hussein was WMD-less when we booted him out of power in 2003. Does that change the need to remove him from power? I say no. Let’s go over the reasoning:
- Hussein had WMDs.
- Hussein used WMDs. Truckloads of dead Kurds and Iranians, some caught on videotape, attest to this fact.
- Hussein wanted more WMDs.
- Hussein couldn’t be allowed to get more WMDs.
Steven Den Beste wrote extensively about the need to remove Hussein from power during the run-up to the war. He listed four reasons why he believed Hussein should be removed from power, any one of which would be a sufficient reason by itself:
First, we are moved to urgency by the fact that Iraq may be close to developing nuclear weapons. We cannot permit that to happen because of the unacceptably high likelihood that such weapons will eventually be used against us, or that they will support a threat against us. If Iraq has nukes, it won’t be possible for us to apply sufficient influence within that part of the world to begin the process of reform we require to be safe.
Second, we need to conquer Iraq so that we can rebuild it and make it more prosperous so that all the other Arabs around it will see that it isn’t just heathen Americans who can become successful, and that Arabs can do it too. We need to make Iraq a better place, with people who are happier, more free, and more prosperous while still being Arab and Muslim. And in particular, we must free the women of Iraq, to show the women in neighboring nations that they don’t have to be treated as animals.
Third, we need to conquer Iraq to put the “fear of God” (as it were) into governments of all the neighboring Arab nations where the traditionalists still hold sway, so that they will be much more likely to permit the few initial reforms we require from them which will start the process of cultural change moving. When we have substantial military forces right on their borders, it will be much harder for them to say “no” to our demands.
Fourth, we need to conquer Iraq because the “Arab Street” only respects power. We have to prove to them that we actually can do it and that we’re willing to do so. That’s their culture and it’s different than ours, but that is how they think and we have to take it into account. (That, by the way, is the reason there was no rising of the “Arab Street” after Afghanistan; it’s because we won convincingly.)
So although the commission said that Hussein didn’t have WMDs, that doesn’t change the necessity of not allowing Hussein to gather more. The second reason is coming true now, as Iraq has had free elections and women were free to vote in those same elections. Likewise, the “fear of God” has been effective in convincing Libya to change, and it can be seen in how Syria is retreating from Lebanon. And the Arab Street has seen the Taliban spanked out of Afghanistan and the strongest military might in the region crushed within three weeks. The fears of an uprising in the Arab Street have gone unfulfilled.
But I’m still not all that sure that Hussein was completely without WMDs in 2003. There remained enough WMDs for thugs in Iraq to detonate IEDs created from their remains — shells with mustard gas and Sarin in them. Plus there was the foiled bomb plot that came out of Syria, that other nation controlled by the Ba’athist party. I think we may yet find more of Hussein’s WMDs. I just hope that they don’t fall into the hands of people who are willing to use them. But whether he had WMDs in his possession or only thought he did, Hussein had to be removed as a necessary step in President Bush’s War on Terror. Again, Steven Den Beste does a grand job of summing up why:
I can’t explain the reasons for attacking Iraq in a vacuum because Iraq is part of a bigger picture, and the attack there will be one battle in a much longer war. Trying to understand one particular battle without the context of the larger war is an exercise in futility. (By analogy: what excuse is there in 1942 for the US to attack Vichy France in Morocco? Vichy France wasn’t our enemy; Germany and Italy were. Taken out of the context of the larger war, the Torch landings in Africa make little sense. It’s only when you look at the bigger picture of the whole war that you can understand them.)
We must attack Iraq. We must totally conquer the nation. Saddam must be removed from power, and killed if possible, and the Ba’ath party must be shattered.”
Four out of five ain’t bad.