Jewish World Review Jan. 28, 2004 / 5 Shevat, 5764
Edward I. Koch
Why the President was justified David Kay or not
It may well be that weapons of mass destruction will never be found in Iraq. They may have been destroyed after the
first Gulf War in 1991, or were buried in the desert or shipped out of the country.
David A. Kay, who was appointed by President Bush to
search for these weapons, recently said, according to The New York Times, that, "the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies
did not realize that Iraqi scientists had presented ambitious but fanciful weapons programs to Mr. Hussein and had then used
the money for other purposes." If this is true, we were not the only ones duped by the Iraqis.
The United Nations Security
Council passed its Resolution 1441 which unanimously threatened Iraq with serious consequences if it did not account for its
weapons of mass destruction, based on the assumption that Saddam Hussein failed to destroy those weapons after the first
Gulf War. Hussein's refusal to demonstrate to U.N. weapons inspectors in the weeks leading up to the second Gulf War that
he had eliminated his prohibited weapons led to the assumption that he still was in possession of such weapons.
In my view, it was not necessary for President Bush to wait for absolute proof that Hussein had weapons of mass
destruction to take action against him. If the President believed, based on, at the time, credible intelligence provided by the
C.I.A. and the British, that Iraq had such weapons, and Saddam Hussein declined to prove he had destroyed them, that was
enough to justify war. As the President stated in his 2003 State of the Union address, "Some have said we must not act until
the threat is imminent…If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions would come too late."
President Bush was not alone in reaching this conclusion. His predecessor, President Bill Clinton, took the same
position, stating in August of 1998, "Saddam's ability to produce and deliver weapons of mass destruction…threatens the
safety of his people, the stability of his region and the security of the rest of us."
In other words, the U.S. did not go into Iraq because we knew for certain that Saddam still had weapons of mass
destruction a reasonable assumption under these circumstances. We went into Iraq because we believed he may have such
weapons. And after 9/11, we could not take the chance that he might use these weapons or give them to terrorists.
It continues to puzzle me that so many Americans oppose the U.S. liberation of Iraq. The anti-war camp is comprised
of at least three groups. The largest is made up of those who simply hate President Bush, as their counterparts in the 1980s
hated President Ronald Reagan.
The second group is aligned philosophically with the "America First" isolationist movement of 1940, which was led by
hero aviator and anti-Semite Charles Lindbergh. Isolationists were largely responsible for keeping America neutral while
Hitler conquered Europe and committed genocide against Jews, gypsies, Communists, Socialists and other minorities.
The third group consists of pacifists who believe no war under any circumstances can be defended. During the Cold
War that group's views were epitomized by the slogan, "Better red than dead."
Fortunately, most Americans believe in New Hampshire's slogan "Live free or die." Today, fundamentalist Islamic
terrorists are demanding as part of their Jihad (holy war) that the U.S. and other Western countries abandon democratic ways,
convert to Islam and abandon their friendships with Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. These
terrorists want to replace the pro-Western governments of our Muslim allies with fundamentalist regimes. Of course, they also
want us to end our support of Israel. When the Allies of yesteryear were led by FDR and Winston Churchill in World War II,
they knew the choice was victory or defeat. The same is true today.
The Times article by James Risen, which quotes David A. Kay, provides the best assessment of Iraq's weapons of
mass destruction program. To summarize it would not do justice to his analysis, so I am setting forth a number of conclusions
described in his own words.
What follows are excerpts from The New York Times of January 26, 2004
"'I'm personally convinced that there were not large stockpiles of newly produced weapons of mass destruction,' Dr. Kay
said. 'We don't find the people, the documents or the physical plants that you would expect to find if the production was going
"'I think they gradually reduced stockpiles throughout the 1990's. Somewhere in the mid-1990's, the large chemical overhang
of existing stockpiles was eliminated.'
"Regarding biological weapons, he said there was evidence that the Iraqis continued research and development 'right up until
the end' to improve their ability to produce ricin. 'They were mostly researching better methods for weaponization,' Dr. Kay
said. 'They were maintaining an infrastructure, but they didn't have large-scale production under way.'
"He added that Iraq did make an effort to restart its nuclear weapons program in 2000 and 2001, but that the evidence
suggested that the program was rudimentary at best and would have taken years to rebuild, after being largely abandoned in
"While he urged that the hunt should continue in Iraq, he said he believed '85 percent of the significant things' have already
been uncovered, and cautioned that severe looting in Iraq after Mr. Hussein was toppled in April had led to the loss of many
crucial documents and other materials. That means it will be virtually impossible to ever get a complete picture of what Iraq
was up to before the war, he added.
"But Dr. Kay said the C.I.A. missed the significance of the chaos in the leadership and had no idea how badly that chaos had
corrupted Iraq's weapons capabilities or the threat it raised of loose scientific knowledge being handed over to terrorists. 'The
system became so corrupt, and we missed that,' he said.
"In addition, Dr. Kay said, it is now clear that an American bombing campaign against Iraq in 1998 destroyed much of the
remaining infrastructure in chemical weapons programs.
"The former Iraqi officers reported that no Special Republican Guard units had chemical or biological weapons, he said. But all
of the officers believed that some other Special Republican Guard unit had chemical weapons.
"'They all said they didn't have it, but they thought other units had it,' Dr. Kay said. He said it appeared they were the victims
of a disinformation campaign orchestrated by Mr. Hussein.
"As a result, virtually everyone in the United States intelligence community during both the Clinton and the current Bush
administrations thought Iraq still had the illicit weapons, he said. And the government became a victim of its own certainty.
"Dr. Kay said he was convinced that the analysts were not pressed by the Bush administration to make certain their prewar
intelligence reports conformed to a White House agenda on Iraq.
"'All the analysts I have talked to said they never felt pressured on W.M.D.,' he said. 'Everyone believed that they had
"'The only comment I ever had from the president was to find the truth,'" Dr. Kay said. 'I never got any pressure to find a
What all this means is that if Saddam Hussein had acted rationally, he could have avoided war. But he was not the
rational leader of a nation. He was a sadistic despot who tortured and murdered hundreds of thousands of his own people and
invaded other countries. He used poison gas against the Kurds and the Iranians. He set fire to more than 700 oil wells in
Kuwait, creating an environmental catastrophe. The world is surely better off without him. Let's hope the effort to create a
free and democratic state in Iraq is successful.
If the C.I.A. failed in its intelligence gathering responsibilities prior to the war, as is now charged by Dr. Kay, Bush's
opponents should remember that the C.I.A. director, George Tenet, is a holdover from the Clinton administration. A
congressional inquiry is now underway and Tenet will testify. Let the chips fall where they may.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington
and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Edward I. Koch, the former mayor of New York, can be heard on Bloomberg Radio (WBBR 1130 AM) every Saturday from 9-10 am. Comment by clicking here.
01/15/04: It is not compassionate or intelligent to open our borders to all
12/24/03: Why I'm voting for Bush
11/26/03: Appeasement only whets the appetite of aggressors
11/06/03: Putin's prosecution of the oligarchs can teach a powerful lesson about anti-Semitism
07/30/03: As the world churns
07/23/03: America not so different than Russia in pursuing white collar criminals
07/16/03: Dems, media are making an unforgivable mistake
06/18/03: Keep American troops out of Israel
05/22/03: It's lots of fun to remain relevant
05/14/03: Living up to their mascot's image? Dems attacks on prez are backfiring
05/07/03: Wall Street settlement was not justice
04/16/03: The doves were proven wrong. Instead of conceding defeat, they are throwing another political tantrum
04/09/03: As the world churns
04/03/03: Gulf War II: The misleading media does it again
03/18/03: Have the courage to admit it, Pat: You're a classic anti-Semite who gives conservatives a bad name
03/12/03: "There they go again"? Not quite!
03/05/03: Making the case for war on British TV left some panelists stunned
02/20/03: Death penalty=racism? Don't confuse them with the facts
02/12/03: History is now repeating itself --- why don't the American bashers grasp it?
02/05/03: As the world turns
01/30/03: Why are sports exempt from racial diversity and universities encouraged to engage in racial preferences over individual academic achievement?
01/23/03: We absolutely can't back down
11/13/02: President blunted the Ted Kennedys of Democrat party --- good for him!
10/23/02: New Jersey's bigot laureate is no private citizen and his 'defenses' are idiotic
10/01/02: Congress is not doing its job
09/26/02: Confronting pathetic Americans in a post 9-11 world
09/19/02: Don't be fooled by Saddam
09/05/02: Necessary or not, getting congressional approval for war is common-sense
08/28/02: In defense of terrorism
08/22/02: Saddam Hussein is extremely popular in "Arab street," so why attack him?
08/15/02: My potpourri
08/09/02: Traitors: Journalistic and 'patriotic'
07/31/02: Euros should spend their time analyzing their own country's wartime actions
07/25/02: I may know next to nothing about the stock market, but I'm not getting out
07/18/02: Dems should stop trying to 'Whitewater' the President
07/11/02: Real Americans and the Islamic threat
© 2002, Edward I. Koch