Politics & Policy

The Threat Saddam Posed

A dictator and his WMD.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece appears in the April 10, 2006, issue of National Review.

For almost three years, the anti-war protesters have kept up the drumbeat: “Bush lied and people died.” Because weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were not found in Iraq, an endless stream of commentators continues to declare that Saddam Hussein was not the serious threat the administration claimed him to be. The critics usually go even further, and assert that sanctions and the destruction of WMD facilities by U.N. investigators had done so much damage to WMD infrastructure that it would have taken Saddam years to rebuild it even to a minimal capacity.

But these claims ignore huge amounts of contrary evidence; and most of this evidence can be found in the final report of the Iraqi Survey Group (ISG)–the very same report that many critics hold up as proof positive that Iraq was not a WMD threat. The evidence found by the ISG (an investigative commission set up by the Bush administration after the invasion of Iraq) confirms that Saddam was preparing to rapidly reconstitute his WMD program the moment he broke out of sanctions, which–given the frayed state of the coalition against him–would inevitably have happened. Not only did Bush not “lie”; the critics themselves are guilty of selectively citing evidence and of ignoring facts inconvenient to their argument. The ISG report, as well as the other evidence that continues to come to light, demonstrates that Saddam couldn’t be trusted with the apparatus of a modern state, which he would have turned quickly back to producing WMD as soon as circumstances allowed.

Consider just one datum: According to the report, Saddam had the capability to start anthrax production within one week of making the decision to do so, and thereafter to produce over ten tons of weaponized anthrax a year. If even 1 percent of that amount–200 pounds–were released into the air over Washington, D.C., Congress’s Office of Technology Assessment estimates that up to 3 million people would die…

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