Thursday, January 08, 2015

Refusing to Believe His Lying Eyes

I find this an amazing assertion that represents a triumph of belief over facts:

According to the poll, the most prevalent misconception appeared to be about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), with 42 percent of Americans overall stating that they believed US forces found WMDs in Iraq, part of the (false) justification for the invasion. That number jumped to 51 percent among Republicans. Even a solid 32 percent of Democrats believed that WMDs were found.

Let me say that chemical weapons were found in Iraq after we invaded. It is true that they were pre-1991 weapons, but they were chemical weapons that Iraq produced and we did find them.

Let me further say that Saddam had chemical weapons raw materials when we invaded--a class of material whose destruction in Syria as part of the Kerry-Lavrov deal in 2013 was counted as a WMD disarmament success by the Obama administration.

And Iraq had banned missiles with ranges too long, which the UN was destroying on the eve of war, don't forget.

The article goes on:

Why? Part of the confusion may come from reports, including a recent article by the New York Times, that thousands of individual chemical weapons shells (manufactured prior to 1991), and related items have been found in Iraq, mostly thought to be vestiges of a WMD program shut down after the U.S.-led invasion in 1991. But unlike the justification given by the Bush administration for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, there was no active WMD program in Iraq at the time.

So the author has actually admitted that chemical weapons were found in Iraq! Doesn't that rather undermine one of two major points in his article?

While it is true that Saddam did not have an active WMD program at the time, that is not the same as saying no chemical warheads were found--they were found.

Nor should it be forgotten that having chemical weapons stocks was only one reason (as even the author seems to admit and then forget for the purpose of the article) of many set forth to destroy the Saddam regime.

Personally, I don't think the pre-1991 weapons were a military threat. Iraq learned to make their own chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq War, but they weren't that good at it, so the poison gas had a relatively short shelf life as a useful weapon. But finding even old chemical shells does indicate that WMD could be hidden in Iraq.

Further, as we recognized in the Syria deal, however flawed the deal is in other respects (such as not stopping Assad from using chemical weapons made with raw materials not part of the deal), the fact that the Iraqis had raw materials and equipment to make more poison gas is important. Saddam could have restarted chemical weapons production in a manner of months even if he had no actual smoking gun post-1991 shells in his arsenal.

Given that chemical weapons were found in Iraq, as the New York Times even confirms and which this author even admits, it should be amazing that so many people don't believe that we found chemical weapons in Iraq.

But the author does provide an explanation:

But there's another reason so many people believe something that has been definitively proven false. They want to.

The idea that we did not find chemical weapons in Iraq had definitely been proven false. But a lot of reporters want to believe the Iraq War was wrong, illegal, and whatnot. So there you go. They "find it comforting to have reasons and answers, even if they are wrong."

War opponents are wrong about many things. Perhaps a review is in order.

By all means, discuss the significance of those finds and whether that issue is the most important when discussing Saddam's WMD status or the reasons to eliminate his regime. But don't be in denial about whether chemical weapons were found in Iraq. We found chemical weapons in Iraq.

UPDATE: Oh, and I should mention that Learning Curve has a very thorough review of  the Iraq War.

I owe Eric commentary on his post but it is a larger task than I assumed when I agreed to provide my modest thoughts on his work! I'm working on it.