Monday, June 7, 2010

What if the WMD is in Syria?

I remember when the possibility of Saddam's WMD in Syria was first discussed, when the Syrian reporter broke the story.  I also remember being very frustrated with the British for asking us to waste time trying for a second/eighteenth UN resolution on Iraq and WMD.  Among other things, conservative commentators worried that Saddam would try to hide his WMD.  Logically, it never made sense that Saddam didn't have them.  First, he of course had them; he'd already used them.  Second, multiple intelligence agencies thought he had them.  One or two agencies' belief could have been analyst gut, but all of them with reason to know?  Third, some of those countries didn't think he had WMD.  They knew he had WMD because they had sold it, or components, to Iraq.  Since we didn't find the WMD, then logically, the only remaining possibility is that they are still hidden.

And what about Bush and Blair then?  To believe that they lied about the WMD is to believe that they are evil.  Stupid is off the table.  You can't dupe the majority of the Western World with crap intelligence if you're stupid.  Evil or earnest are the only options.  

If they went to war, sacrificed soldiers, on intelligence they knew was crap then they are evil liars.  Based upon the vitriol that often accompanies their names, it seems this is a perfectly reasonable position to some people.  But if they are evil, then why weren't they devious enough to plant some WMD on Iraq?  Crooked cops do it all the time.  If they are talented enough liars to get us to go along with invasion on crap intelligence, then aren't they good enough to make us believe that they didn't plant the goods?  It would have saved them both PR fiascoes at the very least and might have saved their respective parties future elections at home.

One might argue, on the other hand, if they were actually earnest and believed the WMD existed and about Saddam stashing it in Syria, then why didn't they go after it?  Good question.  The answer, however, might be rather simple.

If the WMD was hidden in Syria, Saddam had two main goals: keeping it from capture and embarrassing, hopelessly embarrassing, the US and Brits.  In order to keep the big secret and embarrass the West though, the WMD had to remain hidden.  If chemical weapons were unleashed in January 2004, for instance, for whatever reason, then the world would know that Saddam had hidden his stash--and that Syria and Russia helped him do it; yet another reason for secrecy.  So Bush and Blair had taken the weapons out of play, not permanently as intended, but for long enough that they didn't need to chase the weapons down.

Over generalizing a bit, I see that Brits have two alternative negative views of Blair.  Some think he is just an evil a liar like Bush (that Bush is a warmongering liar is a given).  This isn't a credible option.  Evil, simply isn't supported by the facts.  Second, that Blair was just our poodle, coming to heel on liar Bush's leade; he wasn't evil himself, just incapable of standing up to Bush.  (Hence that Prime Minister fantasy speech from Love, Actually.)  But the root of all of this--Bush is bad, Blair is bad or weak--is the bad intelligence, the "false cause for war".   And the intelligence was obviously bad because we didn't find WMD.  What comes then if this Syria tale is true?  

Granted, a cynic can note that this new information comes from Israel who needs a few allies about now, and what better way to get some support than to rehabilitate the US's reputation and scare everyone else about the stockpiles of WMD.  Maybe.  But I'll stick with logic.  I'm not alone either.  I got to this article from news about Obama's pick for intelligence director believing the Syrian tale.  This is a story to watch.  It won't play out tomorrow, but 10, 20 years from now Bush and Blair might be judged differently.

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