|The Iraq war - a retrospective
||[Mar. 27th, 2013|01:12 pm]
There's a lot of history being rewritten now, so I'd like to put in my perspective.|
First: a lot of people are acting shocked, shocked! to find that there were no WMDs found in Iraq.
Folks, before the invasion, we had no solid evidence that Iraq had WMDs.
We had our intelligence agencies estimate that he did - this was specifically noted to be based upon our best assumptions of Saddam Hussein's behavior, given his circumstances and past behavior, and emphatically not based on actual intelligence. We'd had no on-the-ground "category 1" intelligence since the weapons inspectors left.
(I've vaguely heard of categorizations of intel - "category 2" was akin to "reasonable information from a usually trustworthy source" whereas "category 1" was "accepted by this station/agent as true". Are these actual real classifications, or a sign that I've read too many - or too few - spy novels? In any event - we hadn't any any "based on reality" intel since the inspectors left.)
So, we had people whose job it is to look for threats, who said that we should assume they existed. Face it, they should have said that, barring proof that he'd suspended all illegal munitions production; the safest way to fail is to assume he had 'em. But they didn't know.
Ah, but Saddam Hussein wasn't allowing inspections!
The inspectors were in Iraq, and were getting acceptable cooperation. They were destroying weapons they found that were outside of the restrictions imposed on him. Yes, there were negotiations and stubbornness, but the inspectors felt that they were making progress.
The atomic inspectors found him to be clean - these were the people who blew the whistle on him during the Clinton years.
Ah, but we had strong evidence! Like, we had sigint catching a transmission to "clean it all out".
That's evidence for an indictment - not for a conviction. Later, we found caches of dual use chemicals - chemicals Iraq was allowed to possess, but can be used for chemical weapons manufacture. "Clean it all out" now looks like Saddam Hussein was making sure that those dual use chemicals were gone, out of fear that their presence would be used to condemn him.
Given the clear lack of a nuclear threat, and given how little threat Saddam Husein and Iraq posed to us if he had non-nuclear WMDs, there was no excuse to kill a bunch of people, can cause large amounts of suffering to a bunch more. Not unless we had no other choice. And we did. We could have waited, and allowed more inspections.
I've seen people point out that we only had a cease-fire from the first Gulf War, and Iraq was under cease-fire obligations to show they'd dismantled all their biological, chemical, and nuclear research and manufacturing projects. But isn't this a case of never let the law prevent you from doing what's right? You can't hold ordinary people accountable for the responsibilities of an entity that has such power over them. While there was no question that an entity known as Iraq should be pressed into compliance, there was, and should have been, questions about whether the people deserved to bear that burden, unless there was no choice.
And there were choices.
There are a lot of people who are pretending otherwise. But I was there - I was reading the newspapers, and the news websites. And I remember feeling like I was going crazy, where one story would say that Saddam Hussein was being stubborn, and reluctant, but negotiating to allow inspections, and allowing them - and another that said he was "acting like" he had WMDs, this latter story never explaining how one "acts like" one has WMDs. Is this a part of the method?
I will grant this: it was frightfully easy to have fallen into the trap. I myself believed that the US knew that Saddam Hussein had WMDs. No one would ever risk the bare-assed embarrassment of being so sure, so rock solid certain, and end up being wrong, when being wrong means the pointless death of thousands.
It never even occurred to me that "the pointless death of thousands" could be so easily shrugged off. Live and learn, I suppose.