Dick Cheney's Fantasy World

Despite the facts, the vice-president still insists that Saddam Hussein could have produced weapons of mass destruction

In yet another attempt at
revisionist history by the outgoing Bush administration, vice-president
Dick Cheney, in an exclusive interview with ABC News, took exception to former presidential adviser Karl Rove's contention that the US would not have gone to war if available intelligence before the invasion had shown Iraq
not to possess weapons of mass destruction. Cheney noted that the only
thing the US got wrong on Iraq was that there were no stockpiles of WMD
at the time of the 2003 invasion. "What they found was that Saddam
Hussein still had the capability to produce weapons of mass
destruction. He had the technology, he had the people, he had the basic
feed stock."

The vice-president should re-check both his
history and his facts. Just prior to President Bush's decision to
invade Iraq, the UN had teams of weapons inspectors operating inside
Iraq, blanketing the totality of Iraq's industrial infrastructure. They
found no evidence of either retained WMD, or efforts undertaken by Iraq
to reconstitute a WMD manufacturing capability. Whatever dual-use
industrial capability that did exist (so-called because the industrial
processes involved to produce legitimate civilian or military items
could, if modified, be used to produce materials associated with WMD)
had been so degraded as a result of economic sanctions and war that any
meaningful WMD production was almost moot. To say that Saddam had the
capability or the technology to produce WMD at the time of the US
invasion is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.

one can make the argument that Saddam had the people, insofar as the
scientists who had participated in the WMD programmes of the 1980s were
still in Iraq and, in many cases, still employed by the government,
these human resources were irrelevant without either the industrial
infrastructure, the economic base or the political direction needed to
produce WMD. None of these existed. The argument Cheney makes on feed
stock is even more ludicrous. Precursor chemicals used in the lawful
manufacture of chemical pesticides were present in Iraq at the time of
the invasion, but these were unable to be used in manufacturing the
sarin, tabun or VX chemical nerve agents the Bush administration claimed existed inside Iraq in stockpile quantities prior to the invasion.

The same can be said about Iraqi biological capability. The discovery after the invasion of a few vials of botulinum toxin
suitable for botox treatments, but unusable for any weapons purposes,
does not constitute a feed stock. And as for the smoking gun that the
Bush administration did not want to come in the form of a mushroom
cloud, there was no nuclear weapons programme in Iraq in any way shape
or form, nor had there been since it was dismantled in 1991. Cheney's
dissimilation of the facts surrounding Iraqi WMD serves as a
distraction from the reality of the situation. Not only did the entire
Bush administration know that the intelligence data about Iraqi WMD was
fundamentally flawed prior to the invasion, but they also knew that it
did not matter in the end. Bush was going to invade Iraq no matter what
the facts proved.

Cheney defended the invasion and subsequent
removal of Saddam from power by noting that "this was a bad actor and
the country's better off, the world's better off with Saddam gone".
This is the argument of the intellectually feeble. It would be very
difficult for anyone to articulate that life today is better in
Baghdad, Mosul, Basra or any non-Kurdish city than it was under Saddam.
Ask the average Iraqi adult female if she is better off today than she
was under Saddam, and outside of a few select areas in Kurdistan, the
answer will be a resounding "no".

The occupation of Iraq by the United States
is far more brutal, bloody and destructive than anything Saddam ever
did during his reign. When one examines the record of the US military
in Iraq in terms of private homes brutally invaded, families torn apart
and civilians falsely imprisoned (the prison population in Iraq during
the US occupation dwarfs that of Saddam's regime),
what is clear is that the only difference between the reign of terror
inflicted on the Iraqi people today and under Saddam is that the US has
been far less selective in applying terror than Saddam ever was.

a time when the US and the world struggle with a resurgent Iran, the
Iranian-dominated Dawa party of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki governs Iraq today in name only.
The stability enjoyed by Iraq today has been bought with the presence
of 150,000 US troops who have overseen the ethnic cleansing of entire
neighbourhoods in cities around Iraq, and who have struck temporary
alliances with Shia and Sunni alike which cannot be sustained once
these forces leave (as they are scheduled to do by 2011).

Iraq and removing Saddam, the glue that held that nation together as a
secular entity, was the worst action the US could have undertaken for
the people of Iraq, the Middle East as a whole and indeed the entire
world. For Cheney to articulate otherwise, regardless of his
fundamentally flawed argument on WMD, only demonstrates the level to
which fantasy has intruded into the mind of the vice-president.

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