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Tuesday, July 15, 2003

IRAQ AND WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION: ARE BLAIR AND BUSH AS STUPID AS THEIR WORST CRITICS IMPLY? Final Version

Three lengthy articles were published by the buggy prof on this site in June, just before it crashed on July 1st, on the problem of finding Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction in post-Saddamite Iraq: biological, chemical, and nuclear. Unfortunately, until we get the archives back, you won't be able to access these articles. One dealt at length with the practical side of intelligence --- US, UK, German, French (it doesn't matter: all were and are convinced that Saddam had WMD in violation of 17 UN Security Council resolutions) --- and two were systematic study of the moral rights and wrongs of the Bush's and Blair's strategy to go to war and the alleged motives and subsequent moral and political justification for destroying the cruel, mass-murdering system that Saddam, his family, and his Tikrit tribal clan had imposed on 25 million Iraqis for decades . . . complete with a secret-police state that ruled by means of pervasive fear and systematic terror. When we get back our archives, we'll return to the moral side of the US-UK strategy here.

For the moment, concentrate on the charges now being raised around the world --- including in the US and UK (with greater shrillness there than here) --- that Bush and Blair deliberately doctored intelligence reports and then systematically lied to their publics and the world in order to launch a war against Saddam's regime. "Yes, yes, we know how cruel and destructive the regime was", the critics say . . . including now the French government, whose President, Jacques Chirac, told the New York Times reporter who interviewed him in February that he had no doubt Saddam loved the Iraqi people. "But the weapons of mass destruction, old man: where are they? Or . . . or did you lie to us from the start? Eh, where are they, the weapons? Come come Bush! Come come, Blair! Fess up, like men. Look everybody: Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire . . . naughty, naughty boys!."

What, Bush and Blair lied, and repeatedly? Then in that case, we must be dealing with two uncommonly na´ve and very stupid men.

 

To Clarify, Consider the Logical Implications of the Charge

[1] Bush and Blair, no doubt in tete-a-tete eye-winks with one another in meetings here and there the last year or so, must have agreed to coordinate their deliberate deception, including doctored intelligence and publicly declared lies, in order to attack Saddam and his regime for their own reasons. Bush wanting to get revenge for daddy's sake. Or because of a neo-conservative cabal in the Defense Department. Or because of oil --- even though the Houston oil magnates were frightened of a war. As for Blair, what could have been his ulterior motives?

[2] Their deception perfected, Bush and Blair then launch a war --- after months of futile effort to convince 15 members of the UN Security Council, including three other states with vetoes in the Coalition-of-the-Unwilling, and several small states whose governments back home probably couldn't find Iraq on a map if asked --- and they do so relying on a military strategy that will topple Saddam in three weeks or so, an expectation widely vented by almost all military specialists with any savvy and experience (including the less savvy, less experienced, half buzzed-out buggy prof in several articles published here in January and February.) And wait, there's more! As part of their lies and deception, in a form of English twist that only clever Blair must have thought of, the Prime Minister and the President decide to embed hundreds of journalists from around the world in their front-line forces . . . including units, it turns out, that will be used to search for WMD in abandoned warehouses or in underground sites or in the gymnasiums of schools as Iraqi forces retreat All this, mind you, as the journalists hover nearby, anxious for a scoop and the first to broadcast it on TV to all parts of the globe.

In the present case, the non-existent WMD that Blair and Bush lied about, the scoop being to show that Blair and Bush were liars. Is this convincing? Do you believe Blair and Bush and their advisers are that dumb?

[3] Well, if that sounds idiotic, consider another implication: Bush and Blair fail to protect their political rear-ends and future by lying slightly more as the war unfolded, the deception carried out to its logical end in ways nobody would ever figure out . . . with only victory parades and Hosannas to follow in Washington and London.

In particular, all Blair and Bush had to do was exchange a few more eye-winks and have a small team of dirty-dog CIA operatives or MI-5 agents --- all of whom, according to 95% of Hollywood films and about 87% of British films (James Bond the exception), are filled for a start with scary, utterly unscrupulous killing-machines or drunken careerists or immoral louts or sadists through and through --- scatter some biological-agent tubes 6 inches long, a half inch in diameter, in a few buildings in Iraq when no reporters are around, and then bring in an innocent weapons-specialist team and let it discover the agents. And into the bargain, why stop with tubes? Why not a few traces of anthrax left on the floors of the mobile labs found buried in north-central Iraq after the war (used only for agricultural purposes, we're told). And while they're at it, maybe disperse a tiny container or two of Mustard Blister Gas or Nerve Gas or VX Agents scattered here and there in a three or four abandoned warehouses --- not much, mind you; not enough to scare off nosy reporters, keen to get a scoop on their rivals and show the world how diligent they are in following right in the wake of the weapons-specialist teams discovering them. No, just enough to carry out Blair's and Bush's lies and let their potential critics in the US, UK, and elsewhere stew in their festering resentments at how quickly the war went in toppling an evil, blood-splotched regime.

None of which, oddly, these utterly demagogic liars --- Tony Blair and George Bush --- were clever enough to do. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid, no?

 

Some Facts to Consider:

For almost three decades, Saddamite Iraq

  • Used chemical and biological weapons repeatedly against Iranians in their bloody 7 or 8 year-long war.


  • Used chemical and biological weapons against hundreds, maybe thousands of Kurdish Iraqi villages . . . followed by a systematic reign of terror and massacre that killed tens of thousands of more Kurds in the late 1980s. http://www.fas.org/nuke/gui/program.htm


  • Attacked Israel with numerous Scud missiles in the Gulf War of 1991 --- pure weapons of terror, outlawed by international law because of their inability to hit military targets; rather only urban populations --- even though Israel was not a belligerent and hence any attack on it was a further violation of international law. Odd, no? --- how Blair's and Bush's opponents, including the French government, could be so finicky about some aspects of international law and ignore others when it's convenient. As for the Schroeder German government, what can be said about its utterly hypocritical position in the Security Council: oppose war whatever the other members of the Security Council said or did --- this, remember, the policy of the same German government that went to war against Yugoslavia in March 1999, just four years earlier, and sent German troops into battle for the first time since 1945 . . . even though neither Berlin nor Paris nor any member of NATO tried to get Security Council approval? That wouldn't have been forthcoming, you see. (Blair and Bush, by the way, had plenty of international legal right to go to war against Iraq, in violation of 17 UN resolutions demanding strict disarmament and in a matter of months . . . whether starting with the first resolutions in the fall of 1990 or those in 1998 or resolution 1441, passed on November 5th, 2002. See the pros and cons of this --- there are always pros and cons in legal disputes, especially international law --- at http://www.robincmiller.com/ir-legal.htm


  • Invaded two of its neighbors, Iran and later Kuwait --- annexing the latter, the only time a state had invaded a fellow-member of the UN and claimed to end its sovereignty since 1945 --- while on top of everything else stonewalling UNSCOM, the first UN inspection teams for 7 years until their withdrawal in late 1998 . . . followed, by the way, by Bill Clinton's administration launching several hundred cruise missiles at the regime in late December 1998 in an attempt, futile as it was, to decapitate Saddam, his sons, and the other butchers leading the mass-murdering regime. Does anyone remember mass protests by left-wing critics of the Clinton strategy?


  • Confessed --- to the surprise of the UNSCOM inspectors, who had no progress at all in uncovering Saddam's biological weapons programs after almost five years of intensive search --- that it had such programs under way and, no less, had stored several tons of biological and chemical agent weapons. Note: it was a confession fessed-up to only after a son-in-law of Saddam defected to Jordan 1995 and blew the whistle on the program. None of these tons of weapons were accounted for in the Iraqi declaration of early December 2002, which required a full statement of its programs and full disarmament, period, on pain of suffering war. For that matter, Hans Blix has never disputed this failure of compliance.


  • And incurred losses of close to a $100 billion in oil sales, the result of UN-imposed sanctions as an effort to gain leverage over the Iraqi government and force it to disarm . . . but to no purpose, the Blair and Bush critics who now charge liar! liar! would have to say.


  •  

    Four Final Points:

    1) Rolf Ekeus, the ex-chairman of UNSCOM --- the first UN inspection team --- has set out a full explanation recently in the Washington Post that explains why the US and British governments haven't yet found the WMD in Iraq, the programs for which development and production, he's convinced, are there and will eventually be uncovered. UNSCOM, I add, was filled with far more experienced and competent inspectors than the Blix-led UN Inspection team that arrived in Iraq this last December, the first inspectors on the ground in 4 years . . . a long period in which to hide weapons, send them out of the country, reduce certain production lines to barebones form that can be reconstructed quickly in the future, and the like.

    Ekeus insists that the WMD programs were and are the main reason for destroying Saddamite Iraq. The US government, remember, settled on this issue for inter-agency reasons, according to Paul Wolfowitz in May, but there were and are two other good reasons for destroying that homicidal terror-infused state: its links to international Islamo-fascist terrorism, and its human rights record.

     

    2) A British House of Commons legislative committee --- after weeks of investigating of Blair's policy toward Iraq as well as the quality of British intelligence and the Blair government's use of it --- found, despite cause for concern that Blair might have tipped certain intelligence reports in a certain way, that there is no evidence whatever of conscious distortion or deception. See H.C. Report Come to that --- even after the head of the CIA, George Tenet, accepted responsibility for the 16 word line in Bush's speech about Iraq's efforts to obtain noticeable quantities of uranium from Africa --- British intelligence still stands by its findings: in its view, their intelligence is accurate. See Uranium

    Note that last year, German intelligence --- worried that the Social Democrat-Green government wasn't being fully honest with the German people either about the nature of the Islamo terrorist threat or Saddam Hussein's threat --- leaked to the press an analysis that predicted that Saddamite Iraq would have operational nuclear weapons by 2005, and not long afterwards the production potential to arm long-range missiles with nucelar warheads that could target West Europe not long afterwards. See Gordon-Newspost Note further that no western intelligence agency, the French included, ever doubted that Saddamite Iraq was building WMD in violation of UN sanctions, very severe ones.

    Thus, in the fall of 1998, when UNSCOM inspectors --- blocked earlier in the year --- returned to Iraq, the Security Council unanimously passed 3 resolutions between September and late November demanding that the Iraqi government cooperate fully with the inspectors and disarm. No French veto then. No Russian one either. (The German government wasn't a member of the Security Council until January of 2003, without veto power.)

     

    3) Almost all intelligence that deals with the behavior and motive-force of secretive regimes --- especially ones like Saddamite Iraq, full of terror and pervasive secret police --- is going to be speculative and quite likely marked by ambiguities, gaps or omissions, and even contradictions if there are divergent sources of the intelligence . . . especially on key matters, such as leadership policies and intentions.

    More to the point, as an exchange held by CNBC this very night showed --- it was a three-way duel between a good querying reporter, a retired senior CIA top analyst, and the former deputy secretary of the agency --- analysts, seeking to make sense of such a secretive government, encounter two kinds of challenges: secrets and mysteries. Secrets involve things you can identify and make sense of, even if the information is incomplete or even eventually shown to be wrong: such things as levels of defense spending, treatment of rivals in the leadership circle, the reasons for a trip suddenly by the leader to a formerly hostile country, etc. Mysteries are harder to fathom. No less secretive, you're not exactly certain what it is in such cases that you're supposed to find, except in a general and maybe elusive sense. Pinning down the nature, size, location, and other specifics of Saddam's WMD programs and production fall under that heading. In both instances, secrets and mysteries, a lot of inference and even guesswork might be inescapable. Nor is that all. Different analysts within the CIA --- not to mention other intelligence agencies (military and so on) --- may themselves interpret the evidence in discrepant or contradictory manner, yet when the President wants an intelligence assessment on which to base a policy, he doesn't want to hear "on the one hand," "on the other", "and yet and yet," and so on.

    Nor is that all.

    The CIA or any intelligence agency, when it's providing an assessment, will likely engage the State Department or the National Security Council members or the Defense Department officials at high levels, who bring their own suppositions and expectations to the initial discussions out of which a key intelligence assessment will be funneled upward to the National Security Adviser, the Deputy Secretaries and Cabinet Secretaries of State or Defense or the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and these may not fit the working assumptions, expectations, and hopes or fears of the CIA analysts. At the same time, careerism, political concerns, bureaucratic and political pressures, and personalities will be engaged in the exchanges too. And, of course --- witness the CIA using an outdated city map to identify the location of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during the 1999 Kosovo war (when US cruise missiles then hit it) --- the initial information or assessment may simply be wrong.

    The outcome?

    Unless the CIA or any agency can categorically say, "No, Mr. Undersecretary, No, Dr. Rice, that is just not the case," the exchanges can be nudged or pushed or even twisted in certain ways. Most likely, to clarify this --- on certain highly contentious issues like war with Iraq --- Cabinet Secretaries and Deputy and Under-Secretaries and especially the National Security Adviser, the President's direct adviser on foreign policy, will exert political or agency-related pressures on the CIA and other intelligence reps to see things their way . . . ambiguities, omissions, mysteries, and all. That's one thing, and to repeat very likely to occur. It seems to have done so repeatedly over Iraq, and not just in Washington but also in London.

    To charge, on the other hand, that there was deliberate lying and deception by Bush and Blair --- to return to the WMD in Iraq --- is another thing. Presidents do deceive --- not least themselves probably at times --- but others as well.

    After all, Nixon --- caught in a tangle of deception --- repeatedly lied during Watergate. The Pentagon Papers showed that Johnson may have connived in deliberate twisting and concealment of contrary evidence about the course of the Vietnamese war (see Ellsberg), though, it's important to add, Johnson (who had no experience in foreign policy until Kennedy's assassination in late November 1963) might have been totally dependent on the Kennedy advisers and Cabinet Secretaries left over from the Kennedy days. Or take Harry Truman. His speech in March 1947, which in effect declared that the US and the free world faced a coordinated assault by global communism from Moscow, laid out an ideological challenge that was contested by members of the administration in internal discussions . . . including George Kennan, the first head of the New State Department Planning Staff and the father of our Containment policy. Later, Truman declared that to rouse the US public, it had been necessary to "scare the hell out of them." Did he deliberately lie? Lots of other members of the administration thought that the US and friendly countries did face a global communist challenge. Truman did too.

    In 1963, with only 10,000 US troops in Vietnam as advisers, the Kennedy administration connived and plotted through the US Embassy with political forces in Saigon hostile to President Diem --- the Catholic head of the South Vietnamese government, resented by the vast majority of South Vietnamese who were Buddhists and now in open rebellion, and more and more ineffectual in his conduct of the war against the Communists; and and Diem was overthrown and executed by those opponents in a November coup. Did John Kennedy himself --- killed three weeks later in Dallas --- know about the exact role of the US here? The US Embassy obviously did; the CIA and it encouraged but did not create the coup and assassination; JFK's National Security adviser did so too, we now know --- but did Kennedy deliberately lie about the US involvement the next 3 weeks of his life? Historians just don't know.

    Again, was Ronald Reagan in the Iran-contra loop in the late 1980s? We know that his National Security adviser --- actually advisers --- and others were, but Congressional investigations found no role for the President himself in the affair; and in fact, an old man becoming forgetful --- probably down with Alzheimer's then --- he may not have been. Or for that matter, to go back further in US diplomatic history than Truman, did Woodrow Wilson win his 1916 presidential election deceiving the US people about his views that war with Imperial Germany might be inevitable? Or, 24 years later, did Roosevelt do the same in the 1940 election with Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Militarist Imperial Japan in mind?

    Jump back to the Clintonite era. In 1998, the early fall, Clinton had missiles lobbed at an Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and at a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, allegedly a front for Al Qaeda, as retaliation for the Al Qaeda bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. It subsequently turned out that the intelligence about the Sudanese plant was mistaken; for that matter, the Al Qaeda camp turned out to be empty at the time of the attack. The Monica Lewinsky affair was at its height then; did Clinton deliberately deceive and lie to the US public about both targets as diversion from his troubles? Do you really believe this? Three months later, stymied in their inspections, UNSCOM inspectors left Saddamite Iraq, and Clinton ordered several hundred cruise missiles to attack and decapitate, if possible, the Saddamite leadership. The Lewinsky uproar was even greater at the time. Republicans howled for impeachment. Did Clinton deliberately lie and deceive the US public about Iraq's WMD and related threats --- after all, the intelligence on the WMD was, if anything, less good than it subsequently would be --- or did he think that Iraq's regime was too dangerous to live with?

     

    Back to the WMD issue, and the charge of Bush's and Blair's deliberately lying about Iraq's WMD programs and their threat. Here, again, we reiterate our key point: If Blair and Bush deliberately lied and then deceived the US and UK publics, and in coordinated ways, then they have to be the stupidest politicians on the face of the earth not to have covered their tracks and their political futures by letting a small team of CIA operatives or MI-5 operatives plant a few tubes of biological agents and chemical traces in a few abandoned warehouses and a couple of mobile agricultural labs.

    Or are we supposed to think that two leaders ---- systematically lying this way --- suddenly got pangs of conscience and decided to let the journalists, independent weapons-specialist teams, and other investigative bodies start nosing around in large numbers around Iraq because they wanted to be caught?

     




    First, however contradictory and silly the charges of deliberate lies about Iraqi WMD may be, all this controversy does warrant a full-fledged Congressional investigation with full powers to subpoena all CIA, State, Defense, and National Security Council personnel and all relevant documents (some of which, maybe most, will have to be examined in camera, and for obvious reasons). The integrity of the intelligence process is at stake. So, for that matter, is the integrity of President Bush. Better to have several months of investigation and let the truth come out to the extent that such investigations are capable of.

    Second, do you note here and elsewhere a blatant contradiction, swathed in self-deception, on the part of the hard-core political left in this country? On the one hand, it wants more and more governmental regulations and economic direction and transfer programs and taxes and remedial program, and . . . well, you get the idea; and all largely because it, the hard-core left, is so suspicious of markets and capitalism and the existing status quo generally. Fine. But, on the other hand, who is supposed to implement and oversee these new, apparently endless intrusions of the government into economic, social, and cultural life?

    Well --- get this --- none other than the lying, deceiving politicians and agencies and their henchmen and hence-women who, since Woodrow Wilson and FDR and Truman and Kennedy and Johnson and Nixon and Reagan and Bush Sr. and Bush Jr., if we're to believe them, have brought us repeatedly into disastrous wars they deliberately and consciously lied about, while overseeing the development of AMERICAN IMPERIALISM in the world, AKA globalization, that they hold responsible for most of the ills around the globe and in the US (not least in the Ashbury-led Justice Department, full of hysteria we're told) that are multiplying like baby rabbits in Australia.

     

    Isn't this contradiction? Sure, even a bugged-out prof can figure that out.

    Specifically, there's a mental contortion that can resolve the contradiction --- at least if we make the Herculean leap into the hard-core activists' mental world (the buggy professor's buzzing brain full of moderate liberalism, nothing more) and tease out the hidden premise here. To wit? To wit that they, the activist true-believing left and their like-minded brethren will then take control of the government and begin at long last to realize all their utopian longings. Down with Clintonite Third-Way stuff! No more support for Hillary, even among the feminist militants! Uh-Uh, salvation will come with . . . Howard Dean?

    All of which is worrying if you're a moderate Democrat like the buggy prof. As an op-ed that appeared about two weeks ago in the Los Angeles Times showed --- it was written by two former high-level Democrats, including one in the Clinton administration --- the hard-core base of the Democratic Party, the activists who generally go to the state and national caucuses and conventions, are far to the left of the average registered Democrat. That, to repeat, is worrying. It also indicates that the more enthusiasm there is for candidates who accuse a popular President with a good and morally justified triumph in a war against a demonic regime of lies, deception, and even maybe treason, the more likely the Democratic party will alienate much of its electorate and the centrist and moderate Republican voters on which any victory in 2004 will hinge. Will pc-radicals and Paleolibs manage to hi-jack the Democratic Party again, sending it into several decades of electoral limbo once more . . . its fate, really, between 1968 and 1992, save for the brief, hapless Carter interlude, itself a reaction to Nixon and Watergate.

    Note, by the way, the same sort of sell-out claims have been made for decades in the EU by the radical wings of the Socialist parties there, including the British Labour. What, we lost the last election? That's because our trimming, straddling leaders betrayed our cause! didn't fight for true-blood socialism! offered the electorate copy-cat conservatism! So fight brothers and sisters for new leaders, new platforms, new radical messages! The result? Between 1951 and 1997 --- the fall of the last Atlee post WWII Labour government and Tony Blair's Labour Party election as the head of a thoroughly moderate, updated party --- Labour in those 46 years was out of office for all but 8 or 9. The story hasn't been different on the Continent either, with Social Democratic Parties that didn't heed these lessons even losing power after decades and decades in office in Sweden (mid-1980s) and more recently Norway and Denmark.











    Replies: 1 Comment

    Check out:

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/iraq/complete/la-opklein8jun08,1,6368860

    It's a column by Lawrence J. Haas and Richard Klein titled, "Democrats Will Have To Hop Onto Security Wagon." I'm not certain if it's the same one that ran in the NYT or not, but it's at least quite similar in theme and in the credentials of the writers. If the link isn't good any more, let me know and I can email you a PDF copy.

    Keep up the great blog.

    All the Best,

    Ralph

    BUGGY REPLY:

    Ralph: Many thanks. Kindly see the next article published here for my reply.

    Posted by Ralph Tacoma @ 07/15/2003 11:29 PM PST