Weapons of Mass Distraction
by Laurence M. Vance
by Laurence M. Vance
"Saddam Hussein is a man who told the world he wouldn't have weapons of mass destruction, but he's got them." ~ President Bush, November 3, 2002.
"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us." ~ Vice President Dick Cheney, August 26, 2002.
It was three years ago, on March 20, 2003, and 2,317 American soldiers' lives ago, that the United States invaded Iraq and launched an unconstitutional, unjust, illegal, immoral, and unnecessary war of aggression because of Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction." But as everyone now knows, except for a few diehard armchair warriors, Bush the Messiah apologists, Republican Party loyalists, and pathetic Christian warmongers who refuse to acknowledge the facts, Iraq neither had any of these weapons nor was in a position to threaten anyone with them.
In the "Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002," which passed the House on October 10 by a vote of 296-133, passed the Senate the next day by a vote of 77-23, and was signed into law (PL 107-243) by President Bush on October 16, there are six references to Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction":
Whereas Iraq, in direct and flagrant violation of the cease-fire, attempted to thwart the efforts of weapons inspectors to identify and destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and development capabilities,
Whereas in 1998 Congress concluded that Iraq's continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security,
Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people;
Whereas Iraq's demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction,
Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 authorizes the use of all necessary means to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 and subsequent relevant resolutions and to compel Iraq to cease certain activities that threaten international peace and security, including the development of weapons of mass destruction and refusal or obstruction of United Nations weapons inspections
Whereas the United States is determined to prosecute the war on terrorism and Iraq's ongoing support for international terrorist groups combined with its development of weapons of mass destruction in direct violation of its obligations under the 1991 cease-fire and other United Nations Security Council resolutions
According to the Duelfer Report — the final report on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction by the Pentagon and CIA organized Iraq Survey Group — Iraq had no deployable weapons of mass destruction on the eve of the U.S. invasion in March 2003, and had not produced any since 1991.
Bush's callous response to the continued absence of weapons of mass destruction was a comedy routine at the March 2004 Radio and Television Correspondents Association Dinner in which photos were shown of the president looking for weapons of mass destruction in the Oval Office and saying: "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere." Although there was much laughter at the president's remarks, some people were not laughing.
Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were nothing more than weapons of mass distraction.
The president laughed because the weapons of mass destruction were just a ruse. It was old news before the Downing Street Memo was made public that Bush wanted to invade Iraq soon after the September 11th attacks, despite his father's warning:
Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in "mission creep," and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. . . . We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. . . . There was no viable "exit strategy" we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land (George H. W. Bush, A World Transformed, 1999, p. 489).
The case has even been made that the die was cast at the first meeting of the new National Security Council in January of 2001 after Bush assumed the office of president. From then on it was merely a question of when, not if, the invasion of Iraq would take place.
But even before Bush was elected, the September 2000 publication, Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources For A New Century, by the neocon Project for the New American Century (PNAC), shows that the attack on September 11th merely provided an "opportunity" for the United States to take military control of the Middle East. September 11th was the Bush administration's "Pearl Harbor." The roots of this go back, not just to the need for a new enemy after the demise of the Cold War (first Saddam Hussein, and now militant Islam), but to the U.S. government's overthrow of the democratically elected prime minister of Iran in 1953.
But what if Iraq did possess those dreaded weapons of mass destruction? Would possession alone have justified the U.S. invasion? Would possession in conjunction with other factors have justified the U.S. invasion?
Let's make this easy and focus on just the most lethal of all weapons of mass destruction — nuclear weapons. Even if Iraq possessed nuclear weapons, there is absolutely no reason why the United States would be justified in attacking and invading a sovereign country — no matter what we thought of that country's ruler, system of government, economic policies, religious intolerance, or human rights record.
First of all, who is the United States to say that a country should or shouldn't have nuclear weapons? When did the countries of the world appoint America to be the world's policeman, legislator, guardian, or sovereign?
Second, there are four countries which are not signers of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea (North Korea initially ratified but then withdrew from the treaty in 2003). All four of these countries have nuclear weapons, although Israel has not publicly acknowledged the extent of its nuclear capabilities. When is the United States going to attack and invade these countries to remove their stockpiles of nuclear weapons?
Third, there are four countries (France, China, Russia, & the UK) besides the United States which are permitted by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to have nuclear weapons (because they possessed them at the time the treaty was promulgated). Why does the United States tolerate the massive amount of nuclear weapons in those countries and at the same time worry about some other country acquiring a few nuclear warheads? It can't be because those four countries are "friends" of the United States. Only the United Kingdom can be so classified. And now some warmongers want us to go to war with Iran, which has signed and never violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Fourth, every country in the world is justified in obtaining nuclear weapons to protect themselves against the one country that was the first county to develop nuclear weapons, the only county to use nuclear weapons, and the country that has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons — the United States of America.
But, say the aforementioned armchair warriors, Bush apologists, Republican loyalists, and Christian warmongers, the difference between Iraq and all these other countries is that Iraq was a threat to the United States, its neighbors in the Middle East, and the state of Israel. First of all, the idea that Iraq was in any way a threat to the United States (other than by switching its oil export currency to euros) is so ludicrous that I will not waste any keyboard strokes to discuss it. Second, Iraq was a shell of a country after years of sanctions, with no navy or air force and an army that was considerably weaker than it was during the first Persian Gulf War. And third, Israel had enough tanks, ships, submarines, armored fighting vehicles, helicopter gunships, combat aircraft, bombs, rockets, missiles, heavy guns, and enough other assorted weaponry to destroy Iraq many times over if Saddam Hussein actually posed a credible threat to Israel's security.
By distracting the American people with the red herring of weapons of mass destruction, Bush and company were able to garner the support of the majority of the American public for what has turned out to be an absolute disaster for Iraqi people and a quagmire for the United States. We can only hope and pray that Bush leaves office in disgrace — preferably before January 19, 2009, the last full day of his second term.
March 20, 2006
Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] is a freelance writer and an adjunct instructor in accounting and economics at Pensacola Junior College in Pensacola, FL. He is also the director of the Francis Wayland Institute. His new book is Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State. Visit his website.
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