Unfortunately for John's posthumous reputation, the answer to his question is: they didn't exist.
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Where are those weapons of mass destruction, you may ask? Well, I certainly don't have them. The question is what happened to the Iraqi WMD inventory, and whether the failure to find it obviates the chief rationale for the recent war.
The odds are that there still are some stocks, even in Iraq, but that the Baathist government began dismantling the arsenal and shipping it abroad last summer, as soon as it became clear that an invasion was likely. Why do this? The Iraqis were well aware that nothing they had could actually defeat an invasion, and that using WMDs as spite weapons would so discredit the regime as to make a neo-Baathist revival impossible. Why not report the dismantling of the arsenal to the UN? Because the personnel and the equipment to reconstitute the program still existed. The hope was that the UN would be satisfied with the gradual clarification of the record from 1998, the last time the Iraqis stopped cooperating with the UN inspectors.
None of this is relevant to the rationale for the invasionnot
Just as important
* * *
* * *
Finally, regarding the immediate effects of the Iraq War, it is relatively clear that the recent terrorist attacks in Morocco and Saudi Arabia cannot be considered a sign of strength for the terrorist network. After the fall of Iraq, they had to do something, or be dismissed as irrelevant. The sites they chose to strike seem to have been selected simply because they were still within their range, not because they were the sites likely to be most effective. The bombings in Saudi Arabia in particular are going to be counterproductive. The Saudi regime used to be afraid of offending Al Qaeda. Now they fear Al Qaeda actively seeks their overthrow. There is such a thing as progress, even in Saudi Arabia.
Does this mean we can forget about mass-casualty attacks in the US or Europe? Hardly. In any case, if they do occur, we are now in a position to deal with their state sponsors almost immediately.
Copyright © 2003 by John J. Reilly