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"Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction," a white paper released Tuesday by the British government, is an exceptional document. It organizes and summarizes all the salient facts on Saddam Hussein's decades-long quest for WMDs. The report details how chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons are being sought or developed, and existing and emerging Iraqi operational capabilities. Moreover, there are enough names, dates, and places mentioned that those who want to do more in-depth research can start there and go further. Prime Minister Blair said that it is not a document that makes a case for regime change necessarily, but does make an argument for Iraqi disarmament that is difficult to refute. Nevertheless, critics took up the challenge. The immediate response from those who wanted to downplay the significance of the white paper was that it contained nothing new. "The same rehashed stuff," Congressman James McDermott (D., Wash.) said, dismissively. He and Rep. David Bonior (D., Mich.) plan to visit Iraq to check the situation out for themselves. Charles Heyman of Janes World Armies said the report did not produce "any 'killer fact'" ? curiously put since it is concerned with means of delivering death on a vast scale. It is true that much of the same information was covered by a report from the International Institute of Strategic Studies, released a few weeks ago. And the new material (such as the 45-minute deployment window for Iraqi biological and chemical weapons) is not clearly marked as such, though the phrase "we now know" seems to indicate a more recent vintage. But even if everything in the report was something previously known, simply saying "there is nothing new" is not an argument against the validity, veracity, or importance of the document. Violations are violations, whether newly discovered or previously noted. What this position does show is the critics' perspective, one of acceptance. They are willing to allow Iraq to violate arms-control agreements and do nothing about it. The report is comprehensive ? it is hard to deny the charges ? so these critics do not even try. They do not say the facts are wrong, they simply are not interested in them. Since the opponents of taking resolute action against the emerging Iraqi threat have no case to make, they make a virtue of their resignation. Some have challenged the factual basis of the report. For example, the Iraqi government called the document a "sheer fabrication" and is offering to let British journalists tour the named WMD development sites to see for themselves. To see what, one wonders? Would journalists ? or congressmen for that matter ? be able to identify tanks of banned anhydrous-hydrogen-fluoride gas (used in nuclear-weapons production) if they were sitting right in front of them? Or a "filament winding machine which could be used to manufacture carbon fiber gas centrifuge rotors?" I doubt I could, but that's what we have inspectors for. Part Two of the report discusses the means of deception used against U.N. inspectors from 1991-1998. This is useful stuff since the Iraqis are going to be working from the same playbook this time around, and, in fact, already are. Former UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter has lately been making a career of being a gadfly on the disarmament issue. He has consistently denied the existence of the threat the white paper seeks to explicate. His argument rests on two premises: First, the original inspection and disarmament effort destroyed around 95 percent of Iraqi WMD R&D and production capabilities. Second, since 1998 when the inspectors were ejected, Iraq has not been able to import the materials necessary to reconstitute this capability. Therefore, no new WMD threat can have emerged. A logical conclusion ? if you accept the highly questionable premises. Take the first one. How can you know for certain when you have destroyed a given percentage of a covert program? If your initial estimate of what constituted 100% was wrong, you would not know it. As Dr. Robert L. Pfaltzgraff Jr. of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy used to tell us in class back in the Cold War days, "we have never uncovered a successful Soviet deception operation." The statement is tautological ? and indisputable. In the case of Iraq we can more reliably say that UNSCOM dismantled 95 percent of the weapons programs it knew about, and left behind 100 percent of that which the Iraqis managed to conceal. Now the second premise. How can you know whether or not Iraq has illegally and covertly imported the banned and tightly controlled materials it needs for weapons development? Ritter's answer: He has examined the customs forms. Based on that reasoning, I can confidently state that illegal narcotics imports to the United States have totally dried up or been blocked ? the customs paper trail discloses seizure after seizure. No documents show the drugs getting through. Ultimately Ritter's second assumption falls to the same reasonable skepticism as the first ? things which by their nature are likely to be hidden cannot be assumed nonexistent just because you can't easily find them, especially if you are only looking at shipping manifests. So, we have two questionable premises leading to a flawed conclusion. But even if the conclusion is correct, it is irrelevant to the issue of inspections. After all, inspections are the means whereby the premises can be confirmed or disconfirmed. As the report says, "in the absence of inspections it is impossible to verify Iraqi compliance with U.N. disarmament and monitoring obligations." As well, Iraq does not and should not have a choice in the matter. As President Bush pointed out last week, this is a mandate from the United Nations under UNSCR 687, and Iraq is required to admit inspectors or face the consequences. Failure of the U.N. to take this mandate seriously compromises it as an institution. Failure of individual states to take the risk seriously only makes it worse. Perhaps those who want novelty would like to wait until there is something really fresh and exciting to report like the results of an Iraq nuclear test. Part Three of the white paper graphically details past and ongoing abuses against the Iraqi people. But it's the same old repression, the usual torture, garden-variety poison gassing, nothing new.
Yeah right.... 25.Sep.2002 13:33

anon war resistor

Journalists calls Blair's "dossier" dishonest:
Another says he falls to make the case for war:

An expert says that the report does not have any fresh intelligence:

Within two hours and 10 minutes after the release of the report Baghdad authorities were taking a group of British journalists to see the sites of alleged manufacture and storage named in the document:

An investigation by British journalist's reveals that the "leaders" that the Bush government is considering to replace Saddam may be just as bad if not worse:

TomPaine.com has an excellent collection of articles from various political viewpoints discussing why the war is wrong - including one from the right-wing/libertarian CATO Institute.

Sprinkle of Truth 25.Sep.2002 14:24


Looks like you are sprinkling a few more facts into your
D-I campaign. Nice to see you attempt to add credibility to your arguements in that fashion. Careful not to put too much of the real stuff in there.

I'm still not sure what your arguement is for prioritizing Iraq, over other countries with brutal dictators in place (Pakistan, China, North Korea, Israel?, to name a few), and CURRENTLY posess an array of Weapons of Mass Destruction, including nuclear weapons; all of which have shown their willingness to take drastic action when their elite power is threatened. How about despotic regimes such as Saudi Arabia, who could exact a substantial economic attack on the developed world, by price manipulation of a key resource?

Other than that, just a few cooments on your article:

"And the new material (such as the 45-minute deployment window for Iraqi biological and chemical weapons) is not clearly marked as such, though the phrase "we now know" seems to indicate a more recent vintage."

I have to admit, "we now know" sounds quite authoritative, clearly an expert opinion, to be regarded as undisputable fact.

"They are willing to allow Iraq to violate arms-control agreements and do nothing about it."

Seems like I remember hearing about another country that recently violated arms-control agreements, & expected nothing to be done about it. Who was that...?

"The report is comprehensive it is hard to deny the charges so these critics do not even try."

What's the point? The case has been closed.

"Part Two of the report discusses the means of deception used against U.N. inspectors from 1991-1998."

Does it mention illegal U.S. intellgence gathering activities as the primary disruption of those inspectors?..cuz that's what I heard from someone who clearly stated that they NOW KNEW this to be true.


Guess I can go back to my bong and gimp art.
Sounds like you can finally take a well deserved vacation! Bon vouyage, and thanks for all the laughs.

once again, lamet vali... 25.Sep.2002 15:13

this thing here

... your quest for war is moving right along. i hope your happy when you see caskets draped in american flags carried off C-130's and C-17's by honor guards. this will be your hard work paying off, won't it lamet vali.

here's an angle i'd like to explore a little, lamet vali, and all who share your views.

is tony blair the president of the united states of america? guys?

it's fucking sad and shameful that we must rely on A FOREIGN HEAD OF STATE to "eloquently" make the case FOR AMERICA'S NEW WAR. that tony blair cares enough to try and explain it to his nation. WHERE'S PRESIDENT BUSH? WHERE'S THE FUCKING LEADERSHIP OF >>THIS<< COUNTRY? WHERE THE FUCK ARE THEY, LAMET VALI?


this world is ridiculous, this world is going to shit, american's are going to be killed. only the sick and heartless feel proud right now...