Last week, chief weapons inspector Charles Duelfer released a highly anticipated, detailed 1,000-page document on Saddam Hussein’s stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.
Duelfer ultimately concluded that since the departure of international inspectors in 1998, there has been neither attempted production nor completion of WMDs in Iraq. I know; it came as quite a shock to me as well. I’ll give you a moment to pick your jaw up from the floor in light of such startling revelations.
Duelfer also revealed that there were signs of idle programs that Hussein was interested in pursuing but the consistent attention of the international community acted as a significant deterrent.
This is clear confirmation that the sanctions President Bush continues to scoff at were effective, and while there is an argument that they hurt the Iraqi people more than the actual dictatorship, it shows this war was indeed no last resort but rather a first intention all along.
As always, in the face of such news we can expect Bush’s own unique spin on the matter. His administration was quick to report that Iraq was a “growing threat,” and Bush stated in a speech later that day that Iraq posed “a risk, a real risk.” This is in stark contrast to a speech Dick Cheney gave in August of 2002 where he said, “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.”
Let’s take this one step further and note that Bush, in his infamous 2003 State of the Union address, stated that Hussein had enough chemical and biological weapons to produce 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 25,000 liters of anthrax, 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent and had 30,000 munitions so as to unleash this formidable stockpile on the unsuspecting world. That certainly doesn’t sound like a “growing threat” to me.
Do I really need to spell out this ridiculous and embarrassing situation any further? One must begin to wonder if our intelligence is truly so faulty, if our agencies are so incompetent or – and this is what truly angers me – if our current administration was so ignorant in their principles and agendas that they simply saw whatever they wanted.
In any of these disturbing scenarios, how does one explain this to the families of slain soldiers and Iraqi civilians?
After the Duelfer report, the same tired line that our troops are defending our freedom simply doesn’t wash anymore and neither does that of establishing freedom and democracy in the Middle East. It was never stated as a war objective and is only trumpeted now to save face.
The most disconcerting aspect I find concerning these developments are the Orwellian implications of this administration’s actions.
In George Orwell’s classic, 1984, the main character spent his days revising reports and transcripts that quoted the government stating facts that ultimately never occurred or simply weren’t true.
His job was to edit these transcripts and articles to give the appearance that the government had been wrong under any facet but was always correct in its assumptions, estimates and decisions. Sadly, we are bearing witness to very similar abridgements of truth.
We often deride Russian president Vladimir Putin in his deliberate censorship, but we’re in a worse situation. While Russians rarely know the difference, we give way to Bush’s blasphemies. We allow him to convince us that “no doubt” about Iraq’s WMDs is the same as a “growing threat.” In the back of our minds we know that he’s feeding us lies, but the truth hurts so we turn from it. We are the sheep, and he is our shepherd leading us to a cliff that materialized seemingly out of nowhere.
A friend of mine recently moved here from Europe where he’s spent all his life, and once remarked to me after watching the news, “Only in America.” Is this really what we want?
Noah Potvin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.