Two More Cents

by Clifford D. May

Russert: And now, in the world, if you, in the future, say we must go into North Korea or we must go into Iran because they have nuclear capability, either this country or the world will say, ‘Excuse you, Mr. President, we want it now in hard, cold facts.’

This question has been asked over and over and the responses to it seem to forget something significant:

Which nations until now have been taking our analyses at face value? In the most recent instance, British Prime Minister Tony Blair did not say: “Well, if George thinks Saddam’s a dirty old bugger who needs to be on his way, that’s bloody good enough for me!”

No, Mr. Blair had received similar intelligence reports from his own intelligence analysts – including the late weapons expert David Kelly, who said that regime change was the only way to prevent Saddam’s WMD programs from reaching “maturity.”

If anything, British intelligence went further than our own, which is presumably why President Bush partly relied on it – most controversially when he referred in his State of the Union to Saddam seeking uranium in Africa.

Other nations, like France, had similar intelligence – on no occasion did any of the representatives of these nations say: “No, our intelligence clearly indicates Saddam has destroyed his WMD, all of the previously unaccountable stockpiles have now been accounted for.”

Rather, France and others decided that while they, too, believed Saddam had both WMDs and WMD programs, and had not fulfilled his obligations to destroy his WMD in a verifiable manner, no serious action should be taken.

Perhaps that’s because they judged Saddam not to be an imminent or even serious threat. And they may have been right – Saddam probably wasn’t much of a threat to France, particularly so long as Jacques Chirac was de facto defending him in international forums. As for Saddam being a threat to the US or other countries, that may have been a question which filled Chirac and his friends with ennui. .

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