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  xWednesday, October 09, 2002

contradiction alert part 2


Remember when I pointed out the CIA's assessment that Iraq probably wouldn't use its chemical or biological weapons unless we attack them? No problem, says White House mouthpiece Ari Fleischer, it just proves how dangerous Saddam is. I'm amazed that the White House is spinning what to me seems like an embarrassing contradiction into the Rationale of the Day™ (collect 'em all!) for attacking Iraq.

Let's take a closer look:

  1. What the CIA said is the obvious and yet uncomfortable (for the hawks' case) fact that Saddam has been quite effectively deterred from using WMDs, but that removing his motivation not to use them poses a risk.

  2. Don't forget that the CIA was postulating Iraqi use of WMDs against invading troops, or perhaps civilian targets in the region. Even if we motivate Saddam to use WMDs, that doesnt' give him the capability to attack the US directly.

  3. As for attacking the US indirectly, through terrorist groups, it comes down to deterrence once again. What would be the risk that in the event of an attack, Iraq might try to turn some kind of WMD over to terrorists as a kind of doomsday weapon? And how would we stop such a scheme once it was set in motion?

  4. Many nations possess some kind of military capability; the threat they pose is obviously how likey they are to use that capability to attack rather than defend. I see the CIA's analysis as saying "not bloody likely" to the attack scenario. But almost any country would use what resurces it had to respond to an attack, even by the US. I bet Russia, North Korea or even France (well, maybe not France) might use weapons of mass destruction were we to invade them--does that make them a threat on the order claimed for Iraq?



Deterrence was, of course, the key to Cold War strategy, but I don't think anyone pretended that if one side used nuclear weapons, the other side wouldn't respond in kind. Of course someone with WMDs is dangerous, but that simply means that one shouldn't be reckless in dealing with them.