Earth to Bush, Earth to Bush.
There were no WMDs in Iraq. There were no active WMD programs. So says the report submitted by WMD hunter Charles Duelfer. (For my selection of the report’s greatest hits, go to www.davidcorn.com and scroll down.) The report demolishes Bush’s prewar argument that Iraq was an “immediate,” “direct,” and “gathering” threat. Sure, Saddam Hussein, a brutal, ruthless, tyrant who yearned to possess biological, chemical and nuclear weapons presented a problem. But if he did not have WMD stockpiles or active WMD programs, what made the threat he posed “immediate” or “direct.” Since his WMD programs were, according to Duelfer’s report, moribund, what made this threat “gathering.” There was nothing “gathering” about it. But “gathering” is the buzzword that Bush used before the war, and he has relied upon this speechwriter’s find ever since, as it has become apparent no WMDs will be found in Iraq. The Duelfer report shows that whatever threat Iraq posed was rather static. It was not becoming more serious. That means there was no “immediate” and “direct” reason on March 19, 2003, to head into an elective war, with few major allies, not enough body armor and reinforced Humvees, and little planning for the aftermath.
Bush, though, will not–and cannot–concede this. Grim-faced, he read a short statement today about Duelfer’s 1,000-page-long report. Bush noted that the report concluded that Hussein was “systematically gaming the system,” using the oil-for-food program in an “effort to undermine sanctions.” Pointing to the report, Bush declared that Hussein had the “intent of restarting his weapons programs once the world looked away.” Well, no shit, Mr. President. But at the time Bush ordered US forces to invade and occupy Iraq, the world was not looking away. In fact, the world was quite engaged. The inspections process was under way. UN inspectors had gained access to suspicious sites. They had discovered a few missiles that were prohibited. Hussein had begrudgingly agreed to destroy these weapons. The nuclear inspectors had declared they had found no evidence of a revived nuclear weapons program. (Bush and Dick Cheney had repeatedly claimed Iraq had revved up its nuclear weapons program.) And at the United Nations, countries looking to prevent a war were discussing even more intrusive inspections and other means to hold Hussein accountable and to force him to heed UN resolutions. So it’s disingenuous to state that the war was justified because Hussein could have kick-started WMD programs once the world got off his back. If Bush was indeed worried the world would one day tire of keeping Hussein in check–and then Hussein might revive his WMD programs–he could have developed a strategy to maintain the international pressure on Hussein. Instead, he chose war.