Intermediate Form

WMD: The Means Produce the Ends

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Last December, before this blog even had a name, I wrote:

Iraq has been claiming not to have any weapons of mass destruction. I, of course, don't believe them. But it strikes me that even if it was true, Iraq could still possess the ability to make chemical weapons even without having any chemical weapons in existence.

When I wrote this, I was thinking of a scenario that, at the time I thought to be quite likely. Saddam destroyed the vast majority of his WMD, and let the inspectors in to take a look around. The production capacity would still exist, disguised as things that look innocuous. After a short amount of time, the inspectors would give Iraq a clean bill of health, and Saddam would go back to producing weapons of mass destruction, free of UN interference and financed by oil contracts with France and Russia.

As time has passed, I'm beginning to think that this is the more likely scenario. While I still wouldn't be surprised if barrels of WMD are found buried in the desert somewhere, I think the prime focus of Saddam was preserving his programs for a time when inspectors were no longer focusing on Iraq. Hence, he did things like bury centrifuges in the back yard of scientists.

Of course, there are multiple explanations for why Saddam would choose to bury such things. He could simply have had a sentimental longing for the days when Iraq had a WMD program. Once the weapons inspectors were gone, he could have dug them up and placed them in a museum, for all to enjoy.

I doubt it.

Instead, I think a more likely possibility is that Saddam would have used them to reconstitute a weapons program. I don't see what the difference is between a regime having the capability and the inclination to produce weapons, and the regime having the weapons themselves.

I don't know if Iraq had WMD, which was simply destroyed or hidden before it could be found by Coalition troops. But I'm pretty sure that Iraq had the ability to make more, and that (along with the humanitarian benefits of our intervention) was enough to justify going in to Iraq.

- Tom | permalink | changelog | Last updated: 2003-07-04 11:43

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Posted on Friday, July 04, 2003 by Chris:

Good post!

Is there really anyone claiming that programs and intentions would not be enough? That strikes me like claiming that you can't disarm a man who says that he's going to shoot you and has bullets in his left hand and an empty gun in his right.

Still, I think that WMD will actually turn up. I don't think that Saddam would destroy anything; there's no good reason to do it. As someone said, when you burry stuff in the desert, clean the dirt, and kill all of the low level people involved, it's hard to find. Our job is literally as hard as looking for a needle in a haystack; it's going to take a very long time.

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