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News ::
Where are Iraq's weapons? (english)
07 Oct 2003
Modified: 08 Oct 2003
Suppose for an instant that no weapons of mass destruction ever turn up in Iraq. Of course, WMDs might well still appear, but let's imagine that intelligence estimates were completely wrong about Saddam Hussein having an advanced program for chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, as well as the missiles to carry them.
Where are Iraq's weapons?


Suppose for an instant that no weapons of mass destruction ever turn up in Iraq. Of course, WMDs might well still appear, but let's imagine that intelligence estimates were completely wrong about Saddam Hussein having an advanced program for chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, as well as the missiles to carry them.

What would that imply?

US President George W. Bush's Democratic opponents say it renders the decision to go to war a "fraud" or "hyped." But they miss the point, for there was indeed massive and undisputed evidence to indicate that the Iraqi regime was building WMDs.

Defectors and other Iraqi sources nearly all agreed on his WMD program. The actions of the Iraqi government fending off United Nations weapons inspectors tooth and nail, hiding evidence, and foregoing opportunities to have the economic sanctions lifted all confirmed its existence.

Nor is that all: Rich Lowry of National Review has shown that the entire Clinton administration leadership as well as the United Nations and the French and German governments believed in the existence of Iraqi WMDs.

If no WMDs exist, the real mystery is not how the Bush administration made the same mistake everyone else did; the mystery is why Saddam purposefully created the false impression he had WMDs. Why did he put himself into the bizarre position of simultaneously pretending to build WMDs and pretending to hide his non-existent weapons?

Presumably, his goal was to enhance his position. As the Washington Post speculates, he "may have put in place a double- deception program aimed at convincing the world and his own people that he was more of a threat than he actually was."

At a certain point, however, Saddam's charade became self-defeating. Pretending to possess WMDs meant continued economic sanctions that deprived him of billions of dollars a year, debilitated his economic base, and hollowed out his conventional arsenal. Worse from his point of view, the WMD fakery spurred his removal from power, the execution of his sons, and his own likely capture or demise.

Why would a leader who reached the top of a slippery pole through supreme guile persist in so counterproductive a policy? His biographers, Efraim Karsh and Inari Rautsi, describe Saddam Hussein's characteristics as "obsessive caution, endless patience, tenacious perseverance, impressive manipulative skills and utter ruthlessness."

How could he not have cut his losses, acknowledged the non-existence of his WMD program, and thereby saved his dictatorship?

THIS MISTAKE can best be explained as the result of Saddam inhabiting the uniquely self-indulgent circumstance of the totalitarian autocrat, with its two key qualities:

Hubris: The absolute ruler can do anything he wants, so he thinks himself unbounded in his power.

Ignorance: The all-wise ruler brooks no contradiction, so his aides, fearing for their lives, tell him only what he wants to hear.
Both these incapacities worsen with time and the tyrant becomes increasingly removed from reality. His whims, eccentricities, and fantasies dominate state policy. The result is a pattern of monumental mistakes.

Two historical examples make this point. Hitler was winning World War II until he insisted, against the muted advice of his generals, to begin a two-front war by attacking the Soviet Union.
Stalin responded to the build-up of Nazi forces along his border by pretending the whole thing was not taking place.

Hitler's mistake is seen as one of the turning points of World War II and a key reason for Germany's defeat. Stalin's error caused the deaths of many millions of his subjects. The Nazi- Soviet war was the largest, most brutal, and most deadly in human history, and it resulted primarily from the hubris and ignorance of two dictators.

Saddam Hussein already has a comparable record of mistakes (recall his disastrous invasions of Iran and Kuwait), so clinging to a non-existent WMD program even as it led to his own perdition should come as no surprise. We on the outside can only imagine the ambitions and distortions that prompted his faulty decisions.

The propensity of totalitarian demigods to self-inflicted wounds has direct implications for dealing with North Korea, Libya, and other rogue states. Their rulers' vanity and isolation can lead toward a catastrophe that makes no sense to the outside world, but which has a vast capacity to do harm.
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Comments

Sounds like Bush/Cheny (english)
07 Oct 2003
"THIS MISTAKE can best be explained as the result of Saddam (Bush) inhabiting the uniquely self-indulgent circumstance of the totalitarian autocrat, with its two key qualities:

Hubris: The absolute ruler can do anything he wants, so he thinks himself unbounded in his power.

Ignorance: The all-wise ruler brooks no contradiction, so his aides, fearing for their lives, tell him only what he wants to hear. Both these incapacities worsen with time and the tyrant becomes increasingly removed from reality. His whims, eccentricities, and fantasies dominate state policy. The result is a pattern of monumental mistakes.
Who's harboring WMDs? (english)
08 Oct 2003
The Bush regime's MO has been and continues to be frighten/threaten whoever stands in your way into compliance. I am sick to death of the arguements surrounding this issue. Saddam Hussein was an evil man. Obviously there were no WMDs when the US attacked, or we'd probably be sitting in a smoking crater.

Having said that, I would like to make the point that the world's leader in harboring WMDs is the US! What's more, we have NEVER allowed UN weapons inspectors any access. We are also in violation of multiple treaties (the ones we bothered to sign). No wonder much of the world views us as lying hypocrites!