Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 22, 2006
WAR: Where Are The WMD?

One of the pieces of the WMD case against Saddam Hussein's regime was that the regime had never accounted for stocks of chemical weapons known to exist even dating back before the Gulf War. This letter (more here and here and here), noting the discovery of over 500 chemical shells since 2003 (not new discoveries, mind you, but the accumulation of various discoveries over a period of years) just underlines David Kay's conclusion that even without huge stockpiles Saddam's Iraq was, if anything, more dangerous than we thought given the dispersed nature of such weapons. (More shells will surely be found for years into the future - the Belgians still have a booming business turning up World War I era explosives that remain dangerous). And that's before we even get to the biological programs; recall that you can store deadly biotoxins in vials, not warehouses.

George W. Bush has lost the public debate over the pre-war state of Saddam's arsenal of non-conventional weapons. He lost that debate partly because, yes, the nature of the threat was not as Bush and others depicted it - some of the intelligence (even intelligence on which there was a broad international consensus) was faulty, and some of the specific cases in which the Administration made judgment calls to assume the worst turned out not to be as bad as all that. And he lost the debate partly because Bush has always taken the view that the most important thing since 2003 has been to move forward rather than wallow in the original decision, which after all can no longer be changed. I would argue that that has been a huge mistake - Bush's opponents have understood far better than he that controlling the past gives you power over the future.

But facts are stubborn things. One can yet hope that historians, given the time to pull together the whole story and not just each day's drip-drip of news, will recognize that (1) pre-existing, if scattered, stocks of chemical weapons, (2) ongoing or ready-to-revive biological weapons programs and (3) long-range schemes to reactivate Saddam's nuclear weapons programs were a part of the multifaceted threat to the U.S. and its allies presented by the Saddam regime.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:50 AM | War 2006 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

The White House has failed to realise the central front in the war on terror is American public opinion.

Which made having an empty suit named McClellan as your chief "general" in this war as ineffective as Lincoln's appointment of another McClellan to manage the key front of the Civil War.

Posted by: Ironman at June 22, 2006 8:25 PM

"Booming business". Indeed.

Posted by: pedro at June 25, 2006 12:13 PM

"No WMDs" has always been wrong. Plenty of WMDs have been found in Iraq. However they were never the "right" kind of WMDs, or the finds weren't impressive enough to be worthy of reporting. If anyone can recall the media coverage in the initial push, remember how many times they'd say they found a chemical site, only have it be determined that the site was really just a fertilizer storage facility? Chemical fertilizer can easily be processed and turned into any number of nasty agents.

The administration's failure has been to allow the "No WMD" meme to go unchallenged. They've never been presented with a find that was marked "Saddam's Illegal Weapon Storage Facility" and they've never taken the time or energy to point out that a 50,000 sq foot underground facility, miles from the nearest farmland, and guarded by members of Saddam's military, is a dangerous site, even if the only thing being stored is "harmless" chemical fertilizer or pesticides.

Posted by: SFC B at June 25, 2006 3:56 PM
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