People with no principles look to consequences
to justify their actions – the Republican Party and its media megaphones now
contend that Iraq's first democratic election has provided a final and
irrefutable justification for America's invasion and conquest.
That Iraqi Shi'ites turned out en masse for Grand
Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and sharia law doesn't alter the truth – we waged
an illegal, unjust, and unnecessary war.
However, with Fox
and Friends continuing to claim that WMD were probably moved to Syria, and
al-Qaeda and the Ba'athists were an item, it falls to the "reality-based
community" to periodically remind them of the facts. To paraphrase Corneille,
a good memory is needed once lies become the norm.
As a comprehensive report published by the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace in January 2004 stated, "There
was and is no solid evidence of a cooperative relationship between Saddam's
government and al-Qaeda." Saddam Hussein's Iraq was viewed unfavorably
by the Islamists, for precisely the reason we ought to have viewed it more favorably:
under Saddam, Iraq was a secular country.
There is some evidence terrorist coordinator Abu Musab al-Zarqawi traveled
to Iraq in May 2002, well after 9/11. He briefly ensconced himself in the Kurdish
region of northern Iraq (among Bush's allies and beyond the reach of
Saddam's power), near the Iranian border, before resuming his murderous peregrinations
in the region.
On Jan. 27, 2003, Hans Blix, Chief United Nations weapons inspector, reported
to the UN Security Council regarding the inspections process he resumed
in November 2002.
He briefly recounted the procedures outlined by Resolution 687 and implemented
in 1991 after the Gulf War, when the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) and the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) set about to disarm Iraq. The process
continued for eight years, until 1998, at which point Saddam Hussein's
prohibited weapons programs had been dismantled.
At the time of Blix's report, the Americans and British insisted that after
1998 Saddam Hussein had reconstituted the programs that had been
dismantled during eight solid years of inspections. Blix's task was to investigate
Blix was decidedly cautious and suspicious in his 2003 report. When
the Iraqis claimed (truthfully) that all proscribed items had been destroyed
between 1991 and 1998, Blix refused to take their word for it. He
launched comprehensive inspections – interviews, seminars, inquiries with
suppliers and intelligence organizations. These were impeded by some Iraqi jitters
(they suspected inspections were a … covert operation. What on earth would have
given them that impression?). These fears were invariably soothed
over after discussions and negotiations (barbaric, I know).
Contra the lies and the liars that tell them, Blix noted that "Iraq
has, on the whole, cooperated rather well so far with UNMOVIC in this field.
The most important point to make is that access has been provided to all sites
we have wanted to inspect, and with one exception, it has been prompt."
A stipulation of Resolution 1441 was that Iraq submit a comprehensive WMD declaration.
A terrified Iraq promptly complied. Submitted in December 2002, the declaration
contained some 12,000 pages and was promptly ridiculed by both the White
House and Whitehall. Yet it has never been refuted.
Blix, too, remained skeptical, although he firmly believed his process would
expeditiously ferret out the truth about Iraq's putative WMD. Aided by military
and technological assistance from Switzerland, New Zealand, Germany, and other
members of the coalition of the unwilling, numerous experts under Blix's
command crisscrossed the country (something they can only dream of doing today
after "liberation"), ready to disable any dangers that might be discovered.
From November 2002 to January 2003, Blix conducted approximately 300
inspections of more than 230 different sites in Iraq. Of these, more than 20
had hitherto not been inspected. (He set up field offices in Mosul
and Basra, places he could never hope to access today.)
Despite this empirical exercise, the fantasy-based community asserted
that "All the Western intelligence services – the UN itself – stated with
certainty that this thug had and was hiding WMD."
The UN itself, in the person of Hans Blix, never stated that Iraq had WMD in
2002. He suspected the lion's share of the weapons had been destroyed between
1991 and 1998, but sought to verify claims to the contrary. He wrote: "Intelligence
authorities have claimed weapons of mass destruction are moved around Iraq by
trucks; in particular, that there are mobile production units for biological
Dutifully, Blix proceeded to investigate.
On March 7, 2003, the UN's chief weapons inspector reported
good cooperation from the Iraqis. "At this juncture, we are able to perform
professional no-notice inspections all over Iraq and to increase aerial surveillance,"
he observed approvingly.
Using Cyprus as a base, and assisted by American U-2s, French Mirage surveillance,
and other capabilities offered by the Russian Federation (Old Europe, you know),
Blix had the run of Iraq. The meticulous Blix scuffled with the Iraqis over
the legality of their al-Samoud 2 missiles, but here too, he secured
the destruction of 34 of them. In an attempt to check for discrepancies regarding
the numbers of biological and chemical weapons produced and destroyed
in 1991, Blix had also begun to excavate disposal sites.
The fear-mongering claims made by "intelligence authorities"
were scrutinized by Blix (and later by David Kay, and after that by Charles
Duelfer), as he conducted surprise searches both underground and
above. Like David Kay and Charles Duelfer after him, Blix found "no
evidence of proscribed activities."
Nevertheless, Blix wanted to be absolutely sure: "Even with a proactive
Iraqi attitude induced by continued outside pressure, it will still take some
time to verify sites and items, analyze documents, interview relevant persons,
and draw conclusions," he cautioned.
How much time? "It will not take years, nor weeks, but months,"
months he did not get because of George W. Bush's rush to judgment.
On Feb. 14, 2003, Mohammed ElBaradei, chief inspector of the International
Nuclear Energy Agency, filled
in the mushroom-cloud-sized blanks in the emerging WMD picture.
"We have to date found no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or
nuclear related activities in Iraq," he stated categorically.
ElBaradei's extensive and aggressive inspections throughout Iraq included sampling
air, water, sediment, and vegetation, and interviewing key Iraqi personnel and
officials (who had yet to be dispersed). From high explosive HMX, to the manufacture
of magnets, to the purpose of the notorious high strength aluminum tubes (the
ones Condoleezza Rice falsely declared were suited only to nuclear weapons programs),
to probing the possible use of laser technology to enrich uranium, to investigating
dual-use equipment – ElBaradei had a firm grip on what he described as Iraq's
crumbling military infrastructure.
He even checked out the story of the nukes from Niger, which Bush had continued
to parrot well after this legend had been exposed as a crude forgery.
Iraq's claim that "it has made no attempt to import uranium since the 1980s"
was corroborated. ElBaradei unceremoniously, but politely, pronounced that the
Niger procurement was "inauthentic."
ElBaradei, who conducted a total of 177 inspections at 125 locations, had reached
almost every nook and cranny in pre-invasion Iraq. He too confirmed that, contrary
to the line Bush and his claque adopted about Hussein's recalcitrance,
"Iraq has continued to provide immediate access to all locations."
Exhaustive searches had concluded that Iraq was no threat to America. So the
search for a casus belli mutated from "national security" to
"humanitarianism." Desperate to reverse John Quincy Adams'
wisdom (in 1821, the secretary of state emphasized that "America goes not
abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher of the freedom
and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own"),
one typical warmongering commentator argued that Saddam's regime remained
intolerable. The Bush administration had no choice but to consider Saddam
"in the context of [his] past history of murderous aggression against his
neighbors and against his own people, showing his total contempt for the rights
and sovereignty of others."
There you have it. We invaded Iraq in 2003 because Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait
in 1990 (I thought we settled that score). Or because he launched a chemical
attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja (killing 5,000) … in 1988. Or because
he invaded Iran in 1980 (with the U.S., led by Donald Rumsfeld, weighing in
to help Saddam settle that score).
To sum up, the U.S. attacked a prostrate, Third World nation, with no navy
or air force, whose military prowess was a fifth of what was smashed in the
Gulf War. The election of Jan. 30, 2005, and any number of photographs of happy,
ink-stained voters cannot change this truth one iota.