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Why Even Republicans Should Be Glad Iraq Had No WMD

We now know that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction when the US invaded, and that it posed no immediate threat to us. This is a little embarrassing for Bush, who insisted that Iraq had WMD, and to Bush’s supporters, who have to explain why Bush was wrong. But a little embarrassment is a small price to pay, since it’s also now clear that almost certainly, Bush’s war in Iraq would not have kept Iraqi WMD from the hands of terrorists.

Why do I say this? Look at the record. There have never been enough boots on the ground in Iraq to control the country. Immediately after the invasion, this led to large-scale looting, and I remember thinking to myself: are we accomplishing our primary mission in Iraq? how do we know that materials for WMD are not part of what's being looted? Before the war, Bush talked of mobile biological laboratories - do we know where these are? if we don't know, then who's controlling these weapons now, in the lawless parts of Iraq?

I mostly kept these thoughts to myself, because they seemed totally paranoid. If the US is going to mount an invasion, with the goal of preventing WMD from falling into the hands of terrorists, surely securing those WMD will be the top priority - surely there will be sufficient resources allocated to accomplish that. And yet a a recent CNN story tells us:

The senior adviser to Iraq's Interior Ministry blamed U.S. forces Tuesday for not securing facilities where the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency says equipment that could be used to make nuclear weapons has vanished.

Read on. Materials being monitored before the war by the IAEA as "dual use" have not only been lost - entire buildings housing these materials have been dismantled. We know this not from US boots on the ground in Iraq, but satellite imagery.

So what was misplaced? What has disappeared, on Bush's watch, from the country we're occupying?

"The kind of equipment we're talking about ... is the sort of thing that has a multitude of industrial applications," Gwozdecky said. "We were satisfied when we were in Iraq that it was not being used for a nuclear weapons program. In the wrong hands, it could be turned to use in a nuclear weapons program," he said. "Until we establish that this material is in responsible hands, we have to treat it as a serious proliferation concern."

In an earlier post, I pointed out that in retrospect, now that we know the truth, we can see that on Iraq, Kerry was right and Bush was wrong. But it could have been worse. Bush could have been right, and his ineptly executed war could have ended up providing terrorists with WMD. Posted by William Cohen at October 17, 2004 1:12 PM