We Knew Iraq Was Disarmed
by Jude Wanniski
Memo To: Political Reporters
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Refresh Your Memories on Iraq
In watching the Sunday talk shows today I was astonished at how
everyone interviewers and guests seems to have forgotten
that in the last month before President Bush pulled the trigger
on Iraq it was clear we all should have known Saddam had NO WEAPONS
OF MASS DESTRUCTION. I'm posting below a memo I ran in this space
30 days before the war began entitled, "Finally, A Disarmed Iraq."
When everyone who supports the war continues to say that EVERYONE
believed Saddam had WMD, including the French, the Germans, the
Russians, etc. That is true only BEFORE the UN inspectors returned
and spent months going over all the possibilities. A full month
before the President decided that diplomacy had failed, Baghdad
addressed the only issue still outstanding on the UNMOVIC and IAEA
report cards: Proving the negative.
Strip away all gabble we hear today and you should remember the
US position was that it was NOT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE INSPECTORS
to locate WMD, it was Iraq's responsibility to 'fess up and take
the inspectors to the locations where they were hiding WMD!! To
be quite correct, this was essentially the thrust of the 1991 UN
resolution, which required Baghdad to own up to any unconventional
weapons they had, show them to the inspectors, and have them destroyed.
The record now indicates Iraq did EXACTLY that in 1991, but none
of that mattered as the US did not want to lift the sanctions that
were crippling the Iraqi economy. The neo-cons had their hidden
agenda of occupying Iraq, which is where we are now.
Senator John Kerry should be making the most of this, but his "helpers"
are not doing much to help him. On "Meet the Press," Tim Russert
asked former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Chief
of Staff John Podesta how Kerry could really complain about the
war when he "voted for it." Russert asked: What is the difference
between Kerry and Bush? Both Albright and Podesta parroted the party
line that Kerry would have allowed the UN inspectors "to finish
their work," but then slipped into the line that a President Kerry
could then have assembled an international coalition to take out
Their assumption is that if the inspectors finished their work,
they would have found the WMD!! Why do they say this? Because if
they do not, they will have to come to the conclusion that the United
Nations would announce, "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED," and submit that
the sanctions against Iraq should finally be lifted. It is now still
politically incorrect to say the world would be better off if we
had not gone to war and removed Saddam. We know the Bush team wanted
war and their smartest players knew Iraq had been effectively disarmed.
But why do you reporters to this day run film clips and cite quotes
of Hillary Clinton and John Kerry from the Senate floor supporting
the use of force against Iraq? Of course, at the time EVERYONE thought
WMD would be found (except Scott Ritter, the UNSCOM inspector who
ran around telling everyone he knew that this wasn't the case.)
To repeat, political reporters (you too, Tim), should refresh your
memories. Go back and watch the UNSC sessions and read the daily
accounts of how diplomacy was working, except the major media at
the time did not seem to notice.
on the Margin
Finally, A Disarmed Iraq
Memo To: Website Fans, Browsers, Clients, Feb. 17, 2003
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Closing the Last Gaps
If you watched the proceedings of the UN Security Council last
Friday, you had to be paying special attention when UNMOVIC’s Hans
Blix mentioned in passing a list of 83 names he had gotten from
Baghdad in the last few days. US Secretary of State Colin Powell
clearly missed the point or was thinking about something else at
that moment. So were the editorialists at The New York Times, which
led me to write a letter to the Times explaining the importance
of what Blix had mentioned. You may recall that in his remarks which
followed, Powell again and again made the point that while it was
clear Iraq had been cooperating on “process,” it was still not cooperating
on “substance.” He also hammered away on the point that UNSC Resolution
#1441 was not about “inspections,” but about “disarmament.” In its
lead editorial Saturday, the Times made the same point, that
Iraq was still doing nothing to deal with the “substance” of the
disarmament issue that has dragged on since the summer of 1991.
What was that list of 83 names and why is it so crucial? It is the
only way Iraq has of proving the negative, an otherwise impossible
demand by the hawks in the Bush administration. As Iraq’s UN Ambassador
Mohammed Aldouri put it in his remarks Friday, “You cannot give
with an empty hand,” an old Arab saying. What Blix finds promising
on “substance” in the list is that these are the men who actually
carried out the destruction of materials that could be assembled
into weapons of mass destruction if Iraqi scientists knew how to
do so. When the UN inspectors left Iraq in 1998, they had accounted
for 95% of the chemical and biological programs, which led Scott
Ritter to say Iraq had been “qualitatively” disarmed. What was left
were these “gaps” in the records, which UNSCOM’s Richard Butler
insisted was the responsibility of Iraq to prove did not exist.
I don’t know if he ever asked Baghdad for a list of names of the
workers who destroyed the missing materials, but now Baghdad has
supplied the list without being asked for it. If the interviews
get started now, Blix will be able to report to the Security Council
on March 14 that Iraq has been “quantitatively” disarmed, removing
any reason for war.
Here is the letter to the Times, which the paper chose not
Letter to the Editor:
Both the Times in its 2/15 editorial, "Disarming Iraq," and
Secretary of State Powell in his remarks to the UN the day before
missed the most substantive offer made by Iraq last week, as recounted
in the report of UNMOVIC's Hans Blix. It has never been possible
for Baghdad to prove with documentation that some of the missing
chemical/biological materials were destroyed as claimed in the summer
of 1991. Documents had been able to account for almost all the materials,
but after inspections from 1991 to 1998 there remained these gaps.
Mr. Blix told the UN that Iraq's National Monitoring Directorate
has presented a list of 83 names of participants in the destruction
process. "The presentation of a list of persons who can be interviewed
about the actions appears useful and pertains to cooperation on
substance," he said, adding the hope that a similar list be proffered
for proscribed items in the biological field.
There has never been credible evidence that Iraq ever produced "weapons
of mass destruction" in the chemical, biological or nuclear fields.
The gasses the Iraqi army used in the Iran/Iraq war were deadly
to those caught in the vicinity of an incoming shell, but were mainly
used not to kill but to disorient the human-wave attacks employed
by the Iranians.
Iraq clearly tried to "weaponize" anthrax, VX, and biological agents
in the '80s, but failed and abandoned the efforts. What remains
missing are records of some the ingredients that would be needed
for such weapons. The most encouraging part of the positive report
by Mr. Blix is that a method is being worked out to close those
gaps to the satisfaction of the inspection teams.
Wanniski [send him mail]
runs the financial/political advisory service Wanniski.com.
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© 2004 Jude Wanniski