Friday, December 08, 2006

Saddam Was not a Threat - And Not Because of WMD

Senator Gordon Smith (R. Or) is late to the game in saying the Iraq war is a disaster. But at least he finally did. Unfortunately he continues to say that the war would have been justified if Saddam had possessed WMD's. Speaking of Bush, Smith said

"He is not guilty of perfidy, but I do believe he is guilty of believing bad intelligence and giving us the same. . . I can't tell you how devastated I was to learn that in fact we were not going to find weapons of mass destruction."

Many commenters, such as Josh Marshall, and politicians, such as Sen. Smith, continue, to this day, to say that if there had been WMD the war would have justified because Sadaam would have been a threat. As long as they continue to think that, they will never understand how truly unjustified this war was, putting aside of course that it was always an unwinnable ahistorical tragedy.

Even if Saddam had chemical weapons in 2003 (nuclear was never even a remote possibility) he was not a threat to us. To be a threat, a country must have more than weapons that can be used to attack another country. It must have a reason and commitment to begin a war. Many countries, such as Russia, China, France and India, which have large conventional forces as well as chemical, biological and radiological weapons are not considered by us to be a threat. For that matter, Saddam had and used chemical artillery shells throughout the 1980s and was not considered by us to be a threat at that time.

Since his ascent to power in the mid Seventies, Saddam had never threatened us or any of our interests. Prior to the Gulf War he had never attacked us or threatened to attack us and was not allied with any countries or groups that sought to attack us. Yes, he was a bit player in fomenting conflict between the Palestinian and Israelis, but his financial support for the Palestinians was a fraction of that provided by the Saudis. From 1980 to 1990 he was a threat to two of his neighbors - Iran and Kuwait. But after having waged and lost two disastrous wars his dreams of a greater Iraq came to an end in 1991. After the Gulf War his saber had stopped rattling and frankly, was growing rusty in its scabbard. His military was a wreck, his chemical weapons had been dismantled, and with the Kurds controlling Northern Iraq and U.S. over-flights in the North and South he was a paper kitten. At that point he was interested in only two things - lifting of the sanctions and the preservation of his power.

And yet this Administration convinced the American people that he was not only a threat to the United States, but our foremost threat in the world. A petty despot with no military power who had fought a war against Iraq with our support and who was viscerally opposed to Al Qaeda, the Taliban and all other radical Islamic fundamentalists was made out to be Hirohito, Stalin, and Hitler combined. A threat to our very nationhood that could not be allowed to stand a minute more. Not since the Germans justified their invasion of Poland on totally fabricated claims of Polish cross border incursions has a more duplicitous justification for war been foisted on a country.

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