As the Trunk notes below, Andrew Sullivan has urged readers to read David Kay’s report in its entirety and has argued that it vindicates President Bush’s case for war. Andrew convinces me that he would make an excellent press secretary for President Bush; beyond that, his case just doesn’t wash. Here is what David Kay’s report says:
On chemical weapons: “Multiple sources with varied access and reliability have told ISG that Iraq did not have a large, ongoing, centrally controlled CW program after 1991. Information found to date suggests that Iraq’s large-scale capability to develop, produce, and fill new CW munitions was reduced – if not entirely destroyed – during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Fox, 13 years of UN sanctions and UN inspections. We are carefully examining dual-use, commercial chemical facilities to determine whether these were used or planned as alternative production sites.”
On biological weapons, where the evidence is strongest: “Debriefings of IIS officials and site visits have begun to unravel a clandestine network of laboratories and facilities within the security service apparatus. This network was never declared to the UN and was previously unknown. We are still working on determining the extent to which this network was tied to large-scale military efforts or BW terror weapons, but this clandestine capability was suitable for preserving BW expertise, BW capable facilities and continuing R&D – all key elements for maintaining a capability for resuming BW production. The IIS also played a prominent role in sponsoring students for overseas graduate studies in the biological sciences…
“We have not yet been able to corroborate the existence of a mobile BW production effort. Investigation into the origin of and intended use for the two trailers found in northern Iraq in April has yielded a number of explanations, including hydrogen, missile propellant, and BW production, but technical limitations would prevent any of these processes from being ideally suited to these trailers.
Kay’s overall summary applies with particular force to biological weapons: “Saddam, at least as judged by those scientists and other insiders who worked in his military-industrial programs, had not given up his aspirations and intentions to continue to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Even those senior officials we have interviewed who claim no direct knowledge of any on-going prohibited activities readily acknowledge that Saddam intended to resume these programs whenever the external restrictions were removed.” In other words, the combination of sanctions and U.N. inspections in place pre-war was working.
As to nuclear weapons, the evidence is especially woeful: “[T]he testimony we have obtained from Iraqi scientists and senior government officials should clear up any doubts about whether Saddam still wanted to obtain nuclear weapons. They have told ISG that Saddam Husayn remained firmly committed to acquiring nuclear weapons. These officials assert that Saddam would have resumed nuclear weapons development at some future point. Some indicated a resumption after Iraq was free of sanctions.” Every dictator of the last sixty years has wished he had nuclear weapons. A couple of them apparently now do. The suggestion that Saddam would have resumed work on nuclear weapons development once the U.N. sanctions ended is hardly a convincing argument for abandoning those sanctions and launching a pre-emptive war instead.
President Bush is a gambler. He gambled his Presidency on the war in Iraq. The game is not yet over, and discoveries might yet be made that would vindicate his judgment. But for now, his position looks bleak. The administration’s real reason for going to war was the Wolfowitz theory that a free Iraq would topple autocratic dominoes all over the Middle East, thereby ultimately draining the swamp of Islamofascism. Saddam’s illegal weapons consitituted a real, but secondary, motive; even if Wolfowitz’s theory proved unrealistic, we would have done a useful and important thing in preventing Saddam’s weapons from somehow ending up in the hands of terrorists. Now, President Bush’s problem is not just that Wolfowitz may be proved wrong–Arab culture is problematic at best, and Islam appears highly resistant to reform–but that even if Wolfowitz was right, he will not be proved so until Bush is long out of office, be that in 2008 or, as I suspect, in 2004.
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