David, the Wind Blows

From Report: Saddam Not in Pursuit of Weapons:

In a speech on Oct. 7, 2002, Bush laid out what he described then as Iraq's

"It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons."

"We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas."

"Iraq possesses ballistic missiles with a likely range of hundreds of miles — far enough to strike Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey and other nations — in a region where more than 135,000 American civilians and service members live and work.”

What U.S. forces found:

A single artillery shell filled with two chemicals that, when mixed while the shell was in flight, would have created sarin. U.S. forces learned of it only when insurgents, apparently believing it was filled with conventional explosives, tried to detonate it as a roadside bomb in May in Baghdad. Two U.S. soldiers suffered from symptoms of low-level exposure to the nerve agent. The shell was from Saddam's pre-1991 stockpile.

Another old artillery shell, also rigged as a bomb and found in May, showed signs it once contained mustard agent.

Two small rocket warheads, turned over to Polish troops by an informer, that showed signs they once were filled with sarin.

Centrifuge parts buried in a former nuclear scientist's garden in Baghdad. These were part of Saddam's pre-1991 nuclear program, which was dismantled after the 1991 Persian Gulf War (news - web sites). The scientist also had centrifuge design documents.

A vial of live botulinum toxin, which can be used as a biological weapon, in another scientist's refrigerator. The scientist said it had been there since 1993.

Evidence of advanced design work on a liquid-propellant missile with ranges of up to 620 miles. Since the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq had been prohibited from having missiles with ranges longer than 93 miles.
So 1,000+ dead to ensure that Saddam wasn’t able to give himself (or anyone else) a Botox injection. Phew.

I don’t disagree that Saddam was a threat, but he was mostly a threat to his own people, who, frankly, don’t seem to have it much better these days. I don’t know what the right way was to take care of the humanitarian crisis over which he was presiding, but I always felt that an invasion was a ruinously bad idea—an assumption which has been unfortunately borne out as correct.

Of equal concern to fixing what we’ve already broken in Iraq is the thought that Iran and North Korea loom on the horizon, and if Bush is reelected, I fear that diplomacy will play as minimal a role in addressing those concerns as it did in the run-up to the current war.

There is some hope that in future, should there be one for this administration, statements they issue about potential threats will be scrutinized much more rigorously than they were post-9/11, pre-shock & awe. However, if they set their minds on a repeat performance with another member of the “Axis of Evil,” countries with well-documented weapons programs that even Kerry does not dispute (and in fact invokes to illustrate the folly of the Iraq war), will a more meticulous investigation even matter? There is a bigger issue than “the Bush administration lies” (or “deliberately misconstrues,” if you prefer). Spending time on dissecting the disseminated fallacies that led us into this war is not an unworthy pastime, but there is more to be examined. Regardless of the accuracy of their claims, was an invasion the correct course of action? If we decide unilateral preemption is appropriate in the case of a rogue state with a developing weapons program, what is there to make us believe that wars in Iran and North Korea are anything but inevitable? We must remember another of Bush’s favorite fantasies: Saddam wasn’t letting the inspectors in. This is patently untrue; the weapons inspectors were on the ground before the invasion. He recites this assertion in the same breath that he maintains diplomacy (combined with strict sanctions) failed in the case of Iraq. But we see now they did not fail. Saddam had no discernible weapons program. If a rationale for war can be pulled out of thin air (or, at the least, thin intelligence), there is no assurance that the same will not happen in the future. Is it just me, or do you feel a draft?

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