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
(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
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.