The Corner

Iraq

Jonah, I thought your piece the other day on Iraq was great. We still don’t know if Saddam simply hid his WMD’s or if he dismantled his programs (while maintaining the capacity to quickly reconstitute them). In the latter case, Saddam was either attempting to achieve deterrence by making the U.S. (and the entire international community) believe that he had active WMD’s, or Saddam himself had been fooled by his own scientists into believing he had working WMD’s when he didn’t. In none of these cases are we talking about “lies” by the Bush administration. Whether he had them or not, Saddam was encouraging the world to believe he had WMD’s. If anyone was lying, it was Saddam. I agree with you, Jonah, when you say that, regardless of all this, it was worth going after Saddam for the “demonstration effect.” Having said that, I think it’s terribly important that the problem of WMD’s not get lost. The administration’s basic calculation was right. We are in a kind of race against time. When you combine the increasing ease of nuclear proliferation with the ability and willingness of terrorists to kill massive numbers of civilians, you have an almost certain recipe for the destruction of an American city. The administration decided to make a demonstration on the country that was maximally vulnerable and despicable, and that, to the best of our knowledge, not only had WMD’s, but had every hope and intention of someday acquiring a nuclear capacity. Saddam may have simply moved or hidden his WMD’s. But if he was bluffing and biding his time, it doesn’t change the harsh truth that we are deeply vulnerable to a terrorist delivered nuclear bomb–and the threat is growing. The situations in Iran and North Korea grow more dangerous every day. The axis of evil is truly an axis. They cooperate, and may someday soon share nuclear weapons. Thanks to president Bush, Saddam won’t be buying a North Korean bomb. That’s the good news. But for a sobering survey of the danger we face, see this important new piece by Gabriel Schoenfeld.

Stanley Kurtz — Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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