Revisiting the WMDs

Jennifer Harper of the Washington Times reports on a Harris Poll that, among other things, shows that 50% of respondents–up from 36% last year–believe that “Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded.”

The Harris folks term this result “surprising,” but it’s hard to see why. “Yes” is indisputably the right answer to that question. Liberals can dispute whether Iraq had as many WMDs as we believed they did; or whether they had all the kinds of WMDs of which they were suspected; or whether the WMDs Iraq had were mostly, or entirely, left over from the 1980s and 1990s; or whether the alleged mobile weapons labs really reflected nothing more than Saddam’s taking a sudden, and very expensive, interest in weather balloons on the eve of war. But about the fact that Iraq possessed WMDs, there is no doubt.

The problem for liberals is that once that basic fact is admitted, and the discussion becomes more nuanced–e.g., old WMDs versus new WMDs–then the discussion also has to include addional facts: that Saddam remained committed to building more WMDs at the earliest opportunity; that he had at his command ample staff and other resources to carry out that command; and that Iraq was moving successfully toward ending the corrupt U.N. sanctions regime, at which point WMD production would have resumed.

So it’s hard to see how anyone can seriously argue that Iraq was not a threat under Saddam. The legitimate question, it seems to me, is the magnitude of the threat. I think one could legitimately argue that Iran, for example, posed a bigger threat. But once they get past “Bush lied!” hysteria, liberals have little interest in that kind of discussion. Nor, of course, do they have the slightest idea what to do about Iran.

The rest of the Harris Poll results are also interesting, and generally quite favorable.