Wednesday, October 04, 2006

# Posted 5:18 PM by Taylor Owen  

WMD (SHRUG), WE DIDN’T MEAN NUKES?: Via Ackerman at the Plank, this gem from Woodward’s book:

Rumsfeld: "We never--none of us ever believed that [Iraq] had nuclear weapons. The only real worry that we had was chemical."

Biting my tongue for a moment, and putting aside the rhetorical use of the nuclear threat, I have always thought that the conflation of the three pillars of WMD was a bit ridiculous. If an opponent's military capabilities is a justification for going to war, shouldn’t we be a bit more specific?
UPDATE: Despite the tongue biting and suggestive last sentence, I truly do mean ridiculous in a generic, completely non-partisan/political way. The term WMD simply seems too broad to mean anything constructive. Particularly if we are looking at starting wars over "them".

(8) opinions -- Add your opinion

shouldn’t we be a bit more specific?

"But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." Condoleezza Rice, Sept 8, 2002.

“The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa .” Bush, Jan. 28, 2003 SOTU Address.

"We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." Donald Rumsfeld, ABC Interview, March 30, 2003.

The Bush administration was pretty specific. Wrong, but specific.
I really don't understand the nub of your complaint. You don't have a single statement saying that Iraq had nuclear weapons before the war and not even the British "45-minute" Dossier says as much. So how can you criticize people for not being specific?
I honestly think it's the MSM and the left that has confused and conflated this issue. I can remember dozens of references to WMDs by Wolfowitz, Rice, Rumsfeld, etc where they broke out the distinctions between nuclear potential and Dr. Germ's very real, palpable danger to our way of life.
For those that want to pooh-pooh this threat today I would recommend you Google the words "crop duster and Afghanistan documents" or "crop duster and Mohammad Atta" and put yourself in the shoes of those that had to evaluate that threat.
Rumsfeld: "We never--none of us ever believed that [Iraq] had nuclear weapons. The only real worry that we had was chemical."

Isn't this exactly right, though? If we thought they already had nuclear weapons, they would have had a meaningful deterrent (e.g. nuke the oilfields in Saudi Arabia), and we wouldn't have invaded -- that was Bush's whole point when he said that we cannot afford to wait until the threat is imminent. No?
they didnt say that Iraq had nuclear weapons. There WAS discussion that Iraq might be less than a year away from nukes though. And that they were trying to build their nuke program, by, among other things, trying to get uranium from Niger. Which, (see Hitchens) it STILL looks they were trying to do. But they were certainly years away from a nuke.

nuke the oilfields in Saudi Arabia

Think about it. This wouldn't be very effective. It would turn sand into sand.

we cannot afford to wait until the threat is imminent.

Following this logic, we should invade Canada. After all, the Canadians have invaded us before.


they didnt say that Iraq had nuclear weapons.

This is Right Wing weaseling. You are disagreeing with something that wasn't said. The Bush administration *did* say that Iraq had WMDs; see the Rumsfeld quote. This turns out to be false and the Bush administration knew it at the time.

And after this came the ever changing rationales for the war, until we get to Hitchens.

"What is an ambassador to the Vatican, with a background in nuclear diplomacy, doing on such an out-of-the-way mission in the first place?"

Read The Da Vinci Code to find out.
Libhawk, I think what you say backs up my point that WMD is a grossly misleading term. It allowed for the blurring of the three regarding specific intelligence versus overarching rhetoric.
Iraq didn't have the nukes, but it had a nuke program. The October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq established that 500 tons of yellowcake uranium was stockpiled at al-Tuwaitha (which we found during the war) and that Iraq had been actively seeking to procure centrifuges necessary to refine the yellowcake to weapons-grade.
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