Jewish World Review June 11, 2003 / 11 Sivan, 5763
Debra J. Saunders
WMD relic of a quagmire
FIRST THERE WAS the "quagmire," as U.S. troops
prepared to enter Baghdad. TV critics bemoaned the
poor planning that, they said, had sabotaged the war
strategy and could lead to bloody urban fighting and
a prolonged conflict.
Then there was the victory.
Then there was the scandal of the stolen artifacts, as
the director of Iraq's National Museum of Antiquities
Donny George bemoaned the loss of as many as
170,000 relics, characterizing the looting of the
museum as "the rape of civilization." Bush-haters
jumped on the president for not doing enough to
protect the artifacts.
Monday, the Washington Post reported that George
had downgraded the damage to 33 pieces missing
from the main collection. Apparently, museum
officials knew all along that interested parties had
hidden the artifacts.
"I was very angry at the time, so much anger,"
George explained his blame- America-first triades in
Monday's Post. I guess the commentators who were
quick to repeat George's charges were angry too -- at
the war victory.
Now the airwaves and news pages are saturated with
stories about the fact that U.S. troops have failed to
find conclusive evidence of an Iraqi program to build
weapons of mass destruction.
Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., charged the Bush
administration with "deliberately misrepresenting"
intelligence information on Saddam Hussein's
WMDs. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., has called for an
investigation to see if U.S. intelligence was shaded,
manipulated or exaggerated.
Rep. Jane Harman, D-Rancho Palos Verdes, at least
has shown the sense to cushion her sound bites
about Iraqi WMDs. Harman says it "could be the
greatest intelligence hoax of all time" -- then adds the
disclaimer that she believes WMDs eventually will be
(Like the artifacts.)
On Sunday, NBC's Tim Russert read a letter that
Levin had written to President Clinton in 1998 asking
Clinton to take "necessary actions" to respond to
"the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons
of mass destruction programs." So it's odd that
Levin's a WMD agnostic now.
If Levin wants an investigation, fine. There have been
screw-ups. In his State of the Union speech,
President Bush cited phony documents on Iraq's
quest for enriched uranium. Secretary of State Colin
Powell cited outdated information from the United
Kingdom. It can't hurt to know how that happened.
Maybe the embarrassment would prompt the
Bushies to see the value in hiring skeptics to
challenge the administration's orthodoxies.
Besides, the more that partisans snipe at Bush, the
more the electorate will rally behind him.
The voters have too strong a streak of common
sense to believe that Hussein had WMDs in 1998,
then got rid of the weapons on the quiet just so
America could invade Iraq and oust him from power.
"I think the nation's credibility is on the line," Levin
told NBC, as he added that Bush' credibility is on the
What about the naysayers' credibility? They were
wrong on the quagmire. They were wrong on the
artifacts. They'll be proven wrong on WMDs.
Worst of all, they shouldn't appear triumphant in the
military's failure to find these weapons thus far. They
should be afraid.
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© 2000, Creators Syndicate