Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Saddam Hussein's WMD.

There has been plenty of evidence of the American government's incompetence with regard to the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. Yet to be fair, Saddam Hussein's attitude could have certainly raised suspicion. Personally, I have always wondered why Saddam did not fully comply to the demands of the UN inspectors and grant them total access to the sites in question. Why did he play a 'hide-and-seek' game if he had no weapons of mass destruction? Why did he continue to walk such a fine line?
In the last 2 years, I have been convinced that for his attitude to make sense it had to be that:
- either Saddam actually thought he really had WMD (after all dictators are commonly lied to by their entourage)
- or he meant to scare his old enemy - Iran - by pretending he could still be a real threat to them.

According to a book (Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq by NY times journalist Michael Gordon and retired General Bernard Trainor) Saddam Hussein was indeed concerned by WMD... in Iran! It now seems that Saddam's strategy was a sort of "deterrence by doubt". So the irony is that it that while Saddam's concern about Iranian WMD was justified, ours (about Iraqi WMD) was not. Ooops! Wrong country.

But there is even more tragic irony in the story (listen to Michael Gordon on NPR):
  • apparently because of the big fuss made by the US, some Iraqis in the hierarchy became convinced that theere may actually be WMD in Iraq which they didn't know about (after all, that is also quite common in dictatorship). In fact:
The Iraqi dictator was so secretive and kept information so compartmentalized that his top military leaders were stunned when he told them three months before the war that he had no weapons of mass destruction, and they were demoralized because they had counted on hidden stocks of poison gas or germ weapons for the nation's defense. (NY Times)
  • and when Saddam really tried to clean up old WMD sites from the first Gulf War to avoid a U.S. attack before the inspectors were allowed there, the U.S. misinterpreted the cleanup as proof of a cover-up and condemned Saddam at the United Nations.
The book also gives interesting details concerning the grave mistakes made by the American governmen. As NBC nightlynews put it "while the U.S. was misreading him, he was misreading the U.S".
In the end, I think it would have been more justified to get rid of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime for good reasons - such as the idea of humanitarian intervention advocated by Bernard Kouchner and Doctors Without Borders... but that's probably way too idealistic to ever become a reality.

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