Friday, September 30, 2005

Bush Lied, People Died: Part I

I have hated that fraudulent slogan from the first time I saw it. In four short words it demonstrates why the American Left, a.k.a. the Democrat party, has lost all credibility. Before 9-11 there was a virtually unanimous bipartisan belief that Saddam had and was continuing to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD), including nuclear weapons.

If Bush “lied” about Saddam’s weapons programs , then so did a lot of Democrats, including: Sen. Barbara Boxer, Clinton Secretary of State Madeline Albright, General Wesley Clarke, French President Jaques Chirac, Hillary Clinton, Fmr. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

I love this one: “The community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists. If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow." Bill Clinton in 1998.

Al Gore’s 2002 statement is even better: "Iraq does pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf and we should organize an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction. Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power."

And we couldn’t overlook mastermind John Kerry: ”I will be voting to give the president of the United States the authority to use force - if necessary - to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security." Oct 2002.

The best though is from Teddy Kennedy: “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein's regime is a serious danger, that he is a tyrant, and that his pursuit of lethal weapons of mass destruction cannot be tolerated. He must be disarmed." Sept 27, 2002.

The list is endless and is so because there was a virtual unanimity of opinion that Saddam had such weapons, and it is a sure bet he did. Just the same, when no major stockpiles of WMD were discovered in Iraq, the Bush Lied, People Died crowd, which includes many of those listed above, accused the president of deliberately pulling the wool over their eyes. They were tricked, yes tricked by George Bush!

Suddenly Bush, the misunderestimated, knuckle-dragging moron becomes Bush the brilliant Machiavellian, able to convince even real geniuses like John Kerry to vote for war. Suddenly Bush, a relative newcomer to the Washington scene, is the only one who knew the real truth. Many of these luminaries made their assessments of Saddam years before Bush was elected president. I know, he must have been controlling their minds from Crawford, Texas while still governor. This is a man of immense persuasive powers!

Give me a break.

Just saying that “there are no WMD” because no major stockpiles have yet been found is an irresponsible and highly suspect conclusion. One of two things must be true: Either Western policy makers, diplomats and intelligence agencies were completely wrong in their decades long assessment or they were right and Saddam had weapons. And if reams of pre-war intelligence, collected over fifteen years, were completely wrong, how can we be so certain we’re correct now? The indisputable answer is, we can’t.

There are much more plausible explanations, like for example the widely held belief that Saddam’s WMD programs were moved to Syria before the war, which would explain the huge caravans of trucks seen headed to Syria just prior to hostilities, or that they remain squirreled away somewhere in the vast Iraqi desert.

As former CIA director George Tenet stated in November 2003: “I remain convinced that no reasonable person could have viewed the totality of the information that the Intelligence Community had at its disposal—literally millions of pages—and reached any conclusions or alternative views that were profoundly different from those that we reached.”

Yet the “Bush lied, people died” crowd is winning. The tidal wave of agitprop they produce with the willing complicity of Western news media is simply overwhelming. It is infuriating. Along with endless bad news from the front, I admit I have even started to question the wisdom of this war.

So let’s face the demon and walk through it. Why did we go to war with Iraq?

We went to war with Iraq to remove a known player in the world of international terrorism. We went to war to prevent Saddam from realizing his nuclear ambitions and again using WMDs. We went to war too, because we believed he was in allegiance with al Qaeda and might have even had a hand in 9-11.

Let’s start by putting the shoe on the other foot. Suppose that despite 9-11 and the almost unanimous pre-war belief that Saddam had WMD and was developing nuclear weapons, Bush hadn’t gone to war in Iraq. What would these critics be saying now? Right. They’d be relentlessly bashing him for inaction in the face of overwhelming evidence. They would be accusing him of mortgaging our future to a nuclear terrorist. They would be lambasting him at every opportunity as a weakling and coward.

The Iraqi Survey Group (ISG), created by the Coalition to track down Saddam’s WMD programs, concluded last year that: “Saddam wanted to recreate Iraq’s WMD capability—which was essentially destroyed in 1991—after sanctions were removed and Iraq’s economy stabilized, but probably with a different mix of capabilities to that which previously existed. Saddam aspired to develop a nuclear capability… irrespective of international pressure and the resulting economic risks…” The report further concluded that he resisted inspections in order to preserve WMD infrastructure, including key technical personnel, so that the program could be restarted once sanctions were lifted.

First of all, if it had been almost completely destroyed during Desert Storm and subsequent inspections, what did Saddam have to hide? It seems like a lot of work to protect what little infrastructure remained, which we apparently knew about anyway. We also know that his biological weapons program was very large and still operating in 1995, when his son-in-law defected to Jordan. The Iraqis admitted having had biological weapons but claimed they were destroyed. They never provided proof however. How is it that this fact manages to get overlooked by practically everyone?

It is also unlikely that Saddam cared much about sanctions. He got around those quite deftly, corruption of the Oil for Food program being but one example. And his lack of concern for the welfare of his people is plainly evident in his chosen uses for stolen Oil for Food funds: he spent it all on himself.

Regarding WMD personnel, those who were involved are still afraid to talk, even with Saddam gone. Did the ISG really believe these workers would ever tell them the truth while living in Iraq under the watchful eye of Saddam’s Mukhabarat? Some who knew too much have already been murdered right under the coalition’s noses.

But even assuming the ISG’s conclusions were correct; they were unequivocal that Saddam wanted WMD, including nuclear weapons. Even if Saddam had no WMD, if he had stayed in power, he would have eventually obtained them. So would we not have been forestalling the inevitable by choosing not to invade when we did? Wouldn’t waiting have made the eventual invasion much more hazardous? Or if we never invaded, wouldn’t the world be much more dangerous with a nuclear capable Iraq?

Given Saddam’s prior use of WMD, his recognized desire to obtain nuclear weapons, his widespread efforts at deception and flouting of U.N. proscriptions, wouldn’t reining him in seem the prudent action? Wouldn’t ignoring all these behaviors have been the height of irresponsibility in the shadow of 9-11?

The simple answer is yes.

Next month, Part II explores the connections between Saddam’s Iraq, al Qaeda and 9-11.