Wednesday, October 06, 2004
And by "Report" I mean the final report of the Iraq Survey Group. Led by the CIA, it's job was to determine the extent of Saddam Hussein's WMD programs prior to the US invasion in 2003.
Here are the highlights:
- Hussein held no A/B/C stockpiles at the time of the US-led invasion
- Hussien held small quantities of Biological material, likely used for assassination purposes.
- Hussein believed that WMDs kept the US from occupying Iraq in 1990-91. He also believed that they saved Iraq by stopping an Iranian offensive in the Iran-Iraq war. So he wanted to renew his WMD programs.
- To this end, Hussein began a program of subverting the UN sanctions and the oil-for-food program.
- In short, he (from the CNN story) "personally approved the recipients of an oil voucher distribution system, which was designed to influence other nations and individuals to lift the U.N. sanctions and help him import prohibited material"
- He pursued the illegal procurment of said prohibited material to be in a position to begin creating B/C weaponry once the sanctions were lifted.
So, what does all this mean? Well, both the GOP and the Dems. will focus on different parts. The GOP will point to Hussein's intent to restart his WMD programs. The Dems. will point to the fact he held no stockpile of weapons and was not an "imminent" threat.
Who's right? Well, both are. But Bush claimed at the time the war stated that Hussein held stockpiles of WMD and was an "imminent" threat, not a "gathering threat", as WH spokesman Scott McClellan said yesterday. You can't rewrite history on a whim, Scott. Bush was wrong about the situation at the time and executed a flawed and half-baked invasion of Iraq. That's simply the truth, whether people want to stomach it or not.
But let's focus on a couple of other areas. Getting UN backing on this venture was slim to begin with, since so many of the countries were hip-deep in Hussein's voucher scam. Something I wrote about back in February. (New link to the MEMRI doc here). France and Russia were the biggest beneficiaries of this program. Which shouldn't be surprising, since they were also in deep with Hussein when it came to developing Iraqi oil reserves. Let's be blunt: France and Russia had a vested interest in keeping Hussein around. Period.
And all those Arab countries that are so upset with us for invading Iraq? Countries like Egypt, Libya, "Palestine", Syria, Lebanon? All beneficiaries of the voucher program. Such sympathy they have for the Iraqis, especially now that their gravy train has been deposed.
But back to the UN. Even with this rampant corruption, the sanctions were working. Hussein had no stockpiles. And Bush's claim that the sanctions were about to collapse is bunk. Why?
Simple. For the sanctions to be ended, the Security Council has to approve it. And the US, as we know, holds a permanent veto on the Council. So if France, or Russia, or anyone else asked the Council to end the sanctions, all the US had to do was say "No." That's it. One syllable, two letters, and the sanctions on Iraq stay in place.
So why didn't we do that? A good question that has yet to be answered.
I'll state what I have always said. Hussein needed to be dealt with at some point. He was a de-stabilizing force in the Middle East. But he was not an "imminent threat" He could have been isolated while we committed fully to Afghanistan. And once we were done there, he could have been re-evaluated as a threat relative to Iran and North Korea's nuclear ambitions, or Syria's WMD development. The sanctions were not going anywhere.
But we all know what happened instead. And now we have to make it work, because leaving Iraq now would make the situation worse than it was before we invaded.
The shame is that we didn't have to invade at all.