Actually, there are many possible explanations. Saddam Hussein may have underestimated the likelihood of war and not filled any chemical weapons before the invasion. He may have been killed or gravely wounded in the "decapitation" strike on the eve of the invasion and unable to give the orders. Or he may have just been surprised by the extremely rapid pace of the coalition's ground advance and the sudden collapse of the Republican Guard divisions surrounding Baghdad. It is also possible that Iraq did not have the capacity to make the weapons, but given the prewar evidence, this is still the least likely explanation.Isn't it clear that Saddam had the will to have WMD and was busy acquiring the capability to quickly turn dual use technology over to the production of WMD when he felt the time was ripe. Even if you buy the argument is that Bush exaggerated the urgency of going to war this Spring, isn't it better to have gone to war before he switched to producing those weapons?
The one potentially important discovery made so far by American troops — two tractor-trailers found in April and May that fit the descriptions of mobile germ-warfare labs given by Iraqi defectors over the years — might well point to a likely explanation for at least part of the mystery: Iraq may have decided to keep only a chemical and biological warfare production capability rather than large stockpiles of the munitions themselves. This would square with the fact that several dozen chemical warfare factories were rebuilt after the first gulf war to produce civilian pharmaceuticals, but were widely believed to be dual-use plants capable of quickly being converted back to chemical warfare production.
In truth, this was always the most likely scenario. Chemical and biological warfare munitions, especially the crude varieties that Iraq developed during the Iran-Iraq War, are dangerous to store and handle and they deteriorate quickly. But they can be manufactured and put in warheads relatively rapidly — meaning that there is little reason to have thousands of filled rounds sitting around where they might be found by international inspectors. It would have been logical for Iraq to retain only some means of production, which could be hidden with relative ease and then used to churn out the munitions whenever Saddam Hussein gave the word.
Sunday, June 22, 2003
Kenneth Pollack, a former Clinton official, still believes that Saddam had WMD.
Posted by Betsy Newmark at 10:47 AM