John McCain has an excellent piece, both sensible and eloquent, on the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in this morning’s Washington Post:
“Hussein had plenty of time to destroy or disperse weapons stocks and to further conceal weapons programs, which often rely more on human knowledge than physical infrastructure. If Hussein had the weapons destroyed or concealed, reconstituting them would have required primarily the skills of Iraqi scientists. Precious few Iraqis would have been involved in the actual destruction or concealment. That’s why capturing and interrogating Iraqis involved in concealment — as well as scientific personnel — is essential.
“Our intelligence about a hostile foreign government is never perfect. When it tends overwhelmingly toward one conclusion — in Iraq’s case, that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction — should we give the benefit of the doubt to a dictator with a record of deceit and aggression?…I find it impossible to credit as serious the suggestion that this war shouldn’t have been fought because, lacking better intelligence, we ought to have assumed Hussein’s good faith.
“We should not let legitimate debate about the search for weapons minimize the task now at hand: the reconstruction and democratization of Iraq. Discovering the truth about Iraqi weapons is important, securing Iraq’s democratic future even more so. This will be the final measure of our victory, not how many gallons of anthrax we find. The United Nations found a lot, and we will either find more or find out where it went.
“It is too early to declare final victory in Iraq. But we’re well past the point of knowing that our war to liberate Iraq was right and just. The discovery of mass graves filled with the bodies of murdered children should have convinced even the greatest skeptic. We made America more secure, liberated millions from a reign of terror and helped create the prospect for the establishment of the first Arab democracy. That should make Americans proud — and critics of the administration’s decision to go to war a little more circumspect.”
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