No Wmd

No WMD. Nada. Bupkes*.

A message of mine replying to the argument that Iraq did have some

WMD but that its nuclear program was not as far along has had been

thought (!!)

(See also the Carnegie report at [warning: pdf] WMD in Iraq,

which is particularly critical of Colin Powell’s UN speech.)

I think a lot of conceptual unclarity could be undone if we avoided the

phrases “weapons of mass destruction” and “war on terror.”

Chemical weapons are not weapons of mass destruction. They are

battlefield weapons. They have primarily been used in battlefield

situations, or against civilian insurgents (as with the RAF in IRaq in the

1920s or Saddam against the Kurds in the 1980s). The major attempt to use

Sarin for terrorism failed, though it killed a handful of people and

sickened others to one extent or another (Aum Shinrikyo and the Tokyo

subway in 1995). The patterns of urban airflow make them extremely

difficult to deliver for small groups lacking a military.

Iraq at one point had chemical weapons stockpiles. Does not appear to

have had any recently. That it once had them was not a casus belli in


Nuclear weapons are weapons of mass destruction. Iraq did not have

nuclear weapons. It did not have the wherewithal to make nuclear weapons.

It has had no active nucear weapons program for a decade. We were told by

the pundits that Iraq could have nuclear weapons in 3-5 years, i.e. by

2006 or 2008. This was not true. It wasn’t even remotely true. A

facility big enough and sophisticated enough to make nuclear weapons would

have been huge and impossible to hide. Kahuta in Pakistan was an open

secret, because it had to be. It couldn’t be a closed secret.

Most members of Congress say that it was the thought of Saddam having

nuclear weapons that impelled them to vote for the war. They were had.

We were all had.

Had sanctions weakened, there is no reason to think that deterrence would

have become impossible in the nuclear area. The case of Libya shows how

non-violent sanctions and interception of equipment like centrifuges can

foil such a program.

The war need not have been fought on national security grounds.

As a friend of Iraqi Shiites and Kurds, I cannot regret that Saddam is out

of power. But I do regret the violence done to international law and to

the US constitution (Bush usurped the power to declare war from Congress

by stampeding the members with this nuclear weapons scare, which was



*Thanks to all Yiddish knowing friends who corrected my original spelling

error. I found a

web site that alleged that “Experts suspect that bupkes

derives either the Russian for “small beans” or the Yiddish for “goat turd” – or

perhaps a combination of both. “ Ugh.