First – apologies for the 3 page length of this but it had to be said. I wrote most of this and posted it at a forum I belong to a while back. I’ve updated it to include recent events. The points I tried to make a year ago when wrote most of this still hold today.
As you all know, much hay has been made over the ISG report (aka the Duelfer report – links to blogger analysis here) that states essentially that there are no WMD in Iraq. The usual suspects (Kerry and Co.) are jumping all over this as proof positive that the Bush administration “lied” and “misled” people on the ratationale for the Iraq war.
If they did, so do alot of other people – going years back. Let’s start with the Clinton administration – he also believed Iraq possessed WMD and the capability to use the lethal arsenal:
“We have to defend our future from these predators of the 21st century. They feed on the free flow of information and technology. They actually take advantage of the freer movement of people, information and ideas. And they will be all the more lethal if we allow them to build arsenals of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them. We simply cannot allow that to happen.
There is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. His regime threatens the safety of his people, the stability of his region and the security of all the rest of us. I want the American people to understand first the past how did this crisis come about? And I want them to understand what we must do to protect the national interest, and indeed the interest of all freedom-loving people in the world.
Remember, as a condition of the cease-fire after the Gulf War, the United Nations demanded not the United States the United Nations demanded, and Saddam Hussein agreed to declare within 15 days this is way back in 1991 within 15 days his nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them, to make a total declaration. That’s what he promised to do.
The United Nations set up a special commission of highly trained international experts called UNSCOM, to make sure that Iraq made good on that commitment. We had every good reason to insist that Iraq disarm. Saddam had built up a terrible arsenal, and he had used it not once, but many times, in a decade-long war with Iran, he used chemical weapons, against combatants, against civilians, against a foreign adversary, and even against his own people.
And during the Gulf War, Saddam launched Scuds against Saudi Arabia, Israel and Bahrain. Now, instead of playing by the very rules he agreed to at the end of the Gulf War, Saddam has spent the better part of the past decade trying to cheat on this solemn commitment. Consider just some of the facts: Iraq repeatedly made false declarations about the weapons that it had left in its possession after the Gulf War. When UNSCOM would then uncover evidence that gave lie to those declarations, Iraq would simply amend the reports.
For example, Iraq revised its nuclear declarations four times within just 14 months and it has submitted six different biological warfare declarations, each of which has been rejected by UNSCOM. In 1995, Hussein Kamal, Saddam’s son-in-law, and the chief organizer of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program, defected to Jordan. He revealed that Iraq was continuing to conceal weapons and missiles and the capacity to build many more.
Then and only then did Iraq admit to developing numbers of weapons in significant quantities and weapon stocks. Previously, it had vehemently denied the very thing it just simply admitted once Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law defected to Jordan and told the truth. Now listen to this, what did it admit? It admitted, among other things, an offensive biological warfare capability notably 5,000 gallons of botulinum, which causes botulism; 2,000 gallons of anthrax; 25 biological-filled Scud warheads; and 157 aerial bombs.”
And in this shocker, the former President gave the following warning:
“And some day, some way, I guarantee you, he’ll use the arsenal. And I think every one of you who’s really worked on this for any length of time believes that, too.”
He declared boldly in that same speech:
“If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program. We want to seriously reduce his capacity to threaten his neighbors. I am quite confident, from the briefing I have just received from our military leaders, that we can achieve the objective and secure our vital strategic interests. Let me be clear: A military operation cannot destroy all the weapons of mass destruction capacity. But it can and will leave him significantly worse off than he is now in terms of the ability to threaten the world with these weapons or to attack his neighbors.”
In light of what’s being reported today in newspapers across the world on the ISG report findings regarding the intelligence failures that were, in part, used to justify the full scale 2003 Iraq war, I believe it’s important to note that the former President also believed force was perfectly justified in order to render virtually useless Saddam’s ability to use his WMD to threaten his neighbors … and the free world as well! Just how strong was this belief? Let’s let him tell you – from his December 1998 declaration justifying the US cruise missile attack on Iraq (Operation Desert Fox):
“Saddam (Hussein) must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons.”
Nuclear arms?? What proof existed of that? Was the President deliberately misleading the American people?
“Earlier today I ordered America’s armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces.”
Oh my! That lapdog (please note the sarcasm – that is the unfortunate term used by many anti-war here to describe the very cool British Prime Minister) Tony Blair agreed to send in British forces?? Who trusts that guy anyway?
“Their mission is to attack Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors.”
Again, there’s mention of this “nuclear” stuff. Where did the President get his information from??
Apparently, the cruise missile strikes against Iraq back in December 1998 were supposed to be so powerful, so as to oust Saddam Hussien (dare I suggest the term “regime change” as being appropriate here??):
“The best way to end that threat once and for all is with a new Iraqi government — a government ready to live in peace with its neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its people.”
So I conclude that as a result of the cruise missile attacks launched on Iraq by order of former President Bill Clinton back in December 1998 (with the strong backing of Prime Minister Tony Blair but not the backing of the “credit-worthy” UN), that the result of said attacks (after four days) should have resulted in 1) a serious disabling of Iraq’s WMD and nuclear weapons systems and 2) regime change.
Well, in hindsight, we know regime change didn’t happen, but just how were we supposed to know for sure whether or not four days of bombing in December 1998 seriously disabled Saddam’s capability for using his WMD and nuclear programs/arsenals to attack his neighbors – or anywhere in the world, for that matter? It would seem we really didn’t know, since Iraq rejected the move that replaced UNSCOM with UNMOVIC (the UN monitoring, verification and inspection commission) in Dec. 1999 and in November of 2000 Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz rejected new weapons inspection proposals.