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House of cards

Various and sundry Iraq news continues to flow. This is gonna be long.

On WMD: we still haven’t found anything, although Bush said we did. Alas, two trailers that might or might not be WMD factories are not in any way WMD. Sort of in the same way that styrofoam and gas aren’t napalm. On the other hand, various sources are reporting that intelligence analysts felt pressured to find evidence of WMD before the war. Similar reports are coming out of the UK.

Just to forestall one comment: yes, even if Saddam destroyed all his WMD years ago, he failed to accurately account for them. If you’re comfortable invading Iraq due to bad paperwork, more power to you.

Lots of arguments about what might have happened to Saddam’s theoretical arsenal. One popular argument: he gave ‘em to terrorists, in which case it would seem that we’ve at least temporarily increased the threat level. However, Bush tells us that’s not true, in a stirring speech: “But one thing is certain: no terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime because the Iraqi regime is no more.” Or maybe he just forgot to say “besides the tons of chemical weapons I told you they had.”

Another current meme: we haven’t found Saddam, so why should we expect to have found WMD? This is an interesting turnaround from the hopeful noises Rumsfeld was making early in the war, when we were expected to believe Saddam was dead in a bunker. Also — and this is a subtle point, that many may have missed — Saddam is a single human being. Bush claimed that there were literally tons of chemical and biological weapons floating around. Saddam is independently mobile and rather small. Tons of chemical and biological weapons are not. I’m reliably informed that you need some sort of motorized device to move that kind of weight. I’m pretty sure you can’t actually extrapolate from one thing to the other.

Blix, God bless him, is still being the voice of sanity. “The lack of finds could be because the items were unilaterally destroyed by the Iraqi authorities or else because they were effectively concealed by them. I trust that in the new environment in Iraq, in which there is full access and cooperation, and in which knowledgeable witnesses should no longer be inhibited to reveal what they know, it should be possible to establish the truth we all want to know.” This is the closest anyone in the UN is coming to the Bush administration line.

Is that all the Iraq news? Heck no. There’s ongoing resistance in Falluja. This is in no way a surprising development, but it was not one that was widely accepted as a cost of the war by the war’s proponents. This surprise may explain the increasing delay in establishing an interim government.

Onward, ever onward. Turkey and the Kurds are not saber-rattling, and — it’s worth remembering this — Saddam is out of power. Which is a relief; don’t forget to read Salam Pax. That’s my good news for the day.

2 Comments

  1. Haws Haws

    Alas, two trailers that might or might not be WMD factories are not in any way WMD. Sort of in the same way that styrofoam and gas aren’t napalm.

    The Styrofoam and gas to napalm anology doesn’t really work because in the case of the mobile weapons labs (i.e. the trailers) there is no dual use. They are an asset of Iraq’s WMD program. A better analogy might be a loading press to ammunition. You can’t have the latter without the former and there’s no reason to have the former unless you want the latter.

    Even if Saddam destroyed all his WMD years ago, he failed to accurately account for them. If you’re comfortable invading Iraq due to bad paperwork, more power to you.

    Of course, that wasn’t the only reason we invaded Iraq. There were lots of other reasons to get rid of him (not the least of which were the toure chambers, rape rooms, children’s prisons and mass graves etc.). It was never just about WMD (which even war opponents didn’t doubt existed).

  2. Well, there’s still the theory that they were inefficient hydrogen producers. Jim Henley had some good commentary on this, which I agree with — I’d like to hear what other facilities the Iraqis had for producing hydrogen, for comparison purposes.

    I don’t want to pretend that the trailers aren’t some kind of evidence, because they’re clearly suspicious. I just don’t think they’re conclusive yet.

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