We are supposed to hear on 60 Minutes from an FBI interrogator that Saddam hid knowledge that he had lost his WMD program, in hopes of retaining deterrence against Iran, and on assurance he had the personnel and infrastructure to reformulate it rather quickly once our vigilance grew lax — and in a general context that he thought he would never be removed by U.S. ground forces.
The entire question is going to be revisited — especially when we remember that Qaddafi gave up his program in December 2003 a week after Saddam was photographed in his spider hole; the Iranians (if one were to believe the NIE) supposedly began cessation of their nuclear weapons program at about the same time, and A. Q. Khan quite mysteriously a little later in January 2004 was detained in Pakistan and his proliferation program stopped. All of this is more than a coincidence, and suggests that the world might be a much more dangerous place had we not acted in 2003.
And by the same token, we are getting a third look at preemption, a doctrine that went from a legitimate consideration, to a supposed Strangelovian abomination — back again to a legitimate consideration? Nicolas Sarkozy raised the issue in relationship to Iran. Both Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama have talked of preemptive raids into Pakistan. But now we hear that the Nato team of war-planners — Europeans no less! — have announced that they retain the right to preempt with nuclear weapons against terrorist-sponsoring regimes with WMD-a warning that matched or trumped both our own much maligned 2002 National Security Strategy document and George Bush’s famous March 6, 2003 preemption address.
As Iraq continues to quiet down, expect stranger things yet to follow.