Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

In response to the name calling and alarmist 'statement' by Canada's leading 'intellectuals' a reporter did a little homework.

I was alarmed to learn last week that the biggest threat to world peace is George W. Bush and his henchmen in Washington. This news was brought to us by Margaret Atwood, Anton Kuerti, David Suzuki and other Canadian intellectuals who seem to know quite a lot about the evil American empire. (One of them called Mr. Bush a "thug.")The question is, what about Saddam Hussein? They didn't really mention him. So I phoned Charles Duelfer, the United Nations' deputy chief of weapons inspections in Iraq throughout the '90s. He's met thousands of Iraqis and logged a lot of time in Baghdad. I figured he'd know something about Saddam.

"Will peaceful inspections work this time?" I asked him. "No," he said.

In Mr. Duelfer's view, the worst menace is not Saddam's weapons. It's Saddam. "The regime is a growing threat and has taken its own population hostage." He says inspections are likely to be even less effective than they were last time, because the regime has fine-tuned its powers of deception and obstruction. "Iraq tested the inspectors very early on. It egregiously blocked them. And it saw the Security Council's only reaction was to write another resolution."

Iraq is excellent at cheating. And Russia and France, who must agree to any Security Council resolutions, are excellent at undermining the inspectors because they want to protect their oil deals with Iraq. Mr. Duelfer says any inspection team needs a strong military threat to back it up. It also needs the co-operation of Iraq's scientists and engineers. I asked how that could happen, given Saddam's habit of killing the people he doesn't like and torturing their relatives. "The UN would have to ensure that they and their families are offered safe haven."

And what do former inspectors have to say about Saddam and the use of WMD?

Okay, then. So what if Saddam gets nukes? He'd never dare to use them. Or so the peace faction says.

"We make the mistake of believing that he thinks like we do," said Mr. Duelfer. "But he believes that, if he had a nuke, then no one would threaten him. He knows he got it backward in 1990. He was six months away from having an atomic weapon when he invaded Kuwait. If he goes into Kuwait again, are we going to attack Baghdad if we think he will incinerate Tel Aviv?"

Quite a few former weapons inspectors agree with Mr. Duelfer. One is Richard Spertzel, who was the UN's chief inspector for biological weapons. He was in Iraq more than 40 times. "The inspectors don't have a chance," he says. Germ labs are too easy to hide and the Iraqis have become masters of deception. Once he asked an Iraqi official, "We know that you're lying, so why are you doing it?" The official replied, "It's not a lie when you're ordered to lie."

Mr. Spertzel thinks Saddam has anthrax, smallpox and tularemia (rabbit fever, a highly infections bacteria that affects both animals and humans), as well as anti-crop agents. "It will take a shift in the attitude of the Iraqi ruling regime before any elimination of weapons of mass destruction is possible."

So, we can believe a bunch of people whose get paid to entertain us or we can believe the people whose job it is to look for WMD and study Saddam in order to shut down his WMD programs. Choose wisely young Jedi.

< email | 10/01/2002 09:17:00 PM | link

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