Jewish World Review April 25, 2003 / 23 Nisan, 5763

Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

The search for the 'smoking gun'

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | American troops in Iraq have yet to turn up a "smoking gun" -- a cache of forbidden chemical and biological weapons. Does it matter?

It certainly seems to matter to those looking for a reason to pronounce Operation Iraqi Freedom illegitimate. "With every passing day, American credibility is called into question," editorialized The New York Times on April 18. After all, "the chief justification for invading Iraq was to get rid of Baghdad's stores of chemical and biological agents and dismantle its effort to produce a nuclear bomb."

In a story headlined "A month of war, and still no illegal weapons found," The Philadelphia Inquirer cites unnamed "international critics" who say the failure to find Saddam's deadly arsenal "raises questions about the Bush administration's motives for going to war." It quotes a "senior administration official" as asking sheepishly, "If we never find any chemical or biological weapons in Iraq, how do we say, 'Oops'?" Over at the State Department, meanwhile, another anonymous source tells Time magazine, "The White House is screaming, 'Find me some WMD!' "

Now it is conceivable, if just barely, that when all is said and done, the search for Iraq's WMD -- "weapons of mass destruction" -- will turn up nothing. But it is much too soon to speculate. Coalition forces have been in Iraq, a country bigger than Germany, for only five weeks. There are more than 1,000 suspected storage and manufacturing sites to be examined and some 5,000 Iraqi scientists who were involved in chemical and biological warfare programs to interview. The surface has hardly been scratched.

Remember: If Saddam's regime had dismantled its stockpile of unconventional weapons as required by a long line of Security Council resolutions, the world would have known about it long ago. Baghdad was supposed to document the shutdown of its WMD facilities and account for its chemical and biological stocks; Hans Blix's job was simply to verify that the weapons were gone. But Iraq refused to provide that documentation. Instead it filed a 12,000-page sham filled with omissions, falsehoods, and irrelevancies. The only rational conclusion was that Saddam intended to keep his lethal materiel.

Did he trash his hoard of illegal weapons at the last minute? Judith Miller reported in the Times this week that a scientist claiming to have worked in Iraq's WMD program told US military personnel "that Iraq destroyed chemical weapons and biological warfare equipment only days before the war began." The scientist reportedly led the Americans to a supply of chemical precursors for illegal toxic agents.

If the scientist is right, we'll know it in due course. If he's wrong, we'll know that too. There is only one good reason to be worrying now about the lack of a "smoking gun:" the fear that Saddam's supply of plague and poison may have fallen into dangerous hands -- or be under no one's control at all.

But in a larger, more crucial sense, all of this is beside the point. Whatever chemical, biological, or nuclear evidence coalition troops may find, they have already eliminated the real weapons of mass destruction: Saddam Hussein and his evil government.

It was Saddam and his circle of thugs who were responsible for the violent and often sadistic deaths of more than a million human beings. It was they who gassed men, women, and children en masse. It was they who hanged, shot, beheaded, and dismembered people for thinking the wrong thoughts, having the wrong friends, uttering the wrong words -- or for no reason at all. It was they who murdered the youngest and sickest of Iraq's people by embezzling tens of millions of oil-for-food dollars and spending them on obscene pleasure-palaces for themselves instead of medicine and bread for the weak and hungry.

A million deaths. And that doesn't include all the others left maimed and mutilated, the innocents blinded or broken for life. It doesn't account for the minds that shattered under torture or the families that were reduced to shreds. It leaves out the agony of the father whose child was burned alive to make him speak; the endless pain of the wife or daughter whose gang rape was carried out and videotaped on government orders; the emotional scar of those forced to watch as Saddam's agents fed their victims to wild dogs or slowly lowered them into vats of acid.

The threat posed by Saddam's pursuit of unconventional weapons was real. So was his support for terrorism, his record of aggression, and his flouting of UN mandates. Those were the formal grounds for war and they added up to a strong rationale for regime change in Baghdad.

But the best reason for destroying this dictator was that decent nations do not look the other way when human beings by the hundreds of thousands are being butchered and terrorized. Genocide and mass murder demand a response, and better a belated response than none at all.

It was not to find a "smoking gun" that America went to war. It was to crush one of the bloodiest tyrannies the modern world has known. The critics and faultfinders are busy, but time and distance will make it clear even to them that these last weeks have indeed been, in George W. Bush's words, "good days in the history of freedom."

Like this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

04/21/03: Trading truth for access?
04/14/03: Kerry's abortion litmus test
04/11/03: Meanwhile, in Cuba, the tyranny goes on
04/07/03: Explaining the war to a six-year-old
03/31/03: Empowering a terroristocracy in the name of 'peace'?
03/27/03: America the liberator
03/10/03: THE UNITED NATIONS, RIP
03/10/03: Changing the definition of marriage
03/07/03: Liberate Iraq -- even with unclean hands
03/03/03: Why talk radio tilts right
02/21/03: A boost for Saddam
02/10/03: On outing Kerry
02/06/03: The neverending voyage
02/03/03: This hasn't been a 'rush to war'
01/31/03: Killing the terror regimes
01/29/03: How not to win the war
01/24/03: The UN's moral irrelevance
01/22/03: Musings, random and otherwise
01/17/03: The Sharpton hypocrisy
01/13/03: The fig leaf of 'diversity'
01/10/03: Israeli restraint makes terrorism more likely
01/02/03: The double standard on political hate speech
12/30/02: Good for the spirit, good for the body
12/23/02: The college president who owes a greater duty to a fugitive serial killer than the public or to the law
12/20/02: The death penalty by the numbers
12/16/02: Yes, Virginia, there is (still) a liberal media bias
12/03/02: On the brink of regime change --- in Iran
11/27/02: Light's victory over darkness
11/25/02: A 'Republican' lesson from a Democratic convention
11/22/02: The slippery senator
11/18/02: The campus 'diversity' fraud
11/14/02: MURDER AT A KIBBUTZ
11/01/02: Saddam's shop of horrors
10/24/02: Musings, random and otherwise
10/17/02: Jimma's ignoble prize
10/14/02: New Jersey's bigot laureate
10/11/02: Today it is libs who are most likely to demand the silencing of speech they disapprove of
10/04/02: Learning English from Day 1
09/30/02: The world will follow us to war
09/27/02: The face of antisemitism
09/20/02: Starving time in Zimbabwe
09/14/02: Against moral confusion / 9-12-2002
09/03/02: With 'eternal friends' like these
08/30/02: Enriching survivors was a costly mistake
08/26/02: John Kerry's absent passion
08/23/02: Bonnie, get your gun
08/19/02: A screenwriter's remorse
07/29/02: The real abortion extremists
07/26/02: Another round of Kemp-Roth
07/19/02: Jews among Arabs, Arabs among Jews
07/15/02: Musings, random and otherwise
07/12/02: The new civil rights champions
07/03/02: Riding the rails
07/01/02: The prerequisite to peace
06/24/02: Frisking AlGore
06/17/02: Offense, not defense, is the key to homeland security
06/14/02: Looking at the horror
06/07/02: The cost of a death-penalty moratorium
06/03/02: Executing 'children,' and other death-penalty myths
05/29/02: A real threat?
05/24/02: The message in Arafat's headdress
05/20/02: (Mis)playing the popularity card
05/10/02: Outspoken, Muslim -- and moderate
05/10/02: The heroes in Castro's jails
05/06/02: The disappearing history term paper
05/03/02: Musings, random and otherwise
04/29/02: The canary in Europe's mine
04/15/02: Powell's crazy mission
04/12/02: The slavery reparations hustle
04/08/02: Peace at any price = war
03/26/02: Decency matters most, Caleb
03/22/02: The U.S. embargo and Cuba's future
03/19/02: The keepers of Cuba's conscience
03/15/02: A walk in Havana
02/26/02: Buchanan's lament
02/12/02: What 'peace' means to Arafat
02/08/02: STEVEN EMERSON AND THE NPR BLACKLIST
02/05/02: Antismoking: Who pays?
02/01/02: Turn the Saudis
01/25/02: Making MLK cry
01/21/02: Ted to tax cut: Drop dead
01/18/02: Musings random and otherwise
01/14/02: An ultimatum to Saudi Arabia
01/11/02: Friendship, Saudi-style
01/07/02: Shakedown at Harvard
01/04/02: More guns, more safety
01/02/02: Smears and slanders from the Left
12/28/01: Congress gives to others -- and itself
12/24/01: The littlest peacemakers
12/20/01: How to condemn terror
12/18/01: Greenland once was
12/14/01: Parents who never said ''no''
12/11/01: Wit and (economic) wisdom
12/07/01: THE PALESTINIANS' MYTH
12/04/01: The war against Israel goes on
11/30/01: Tribunals, motorcycles -- and freedom
11/19/01: Friendship and the House of Saud
11/12/01: The Justice Department's unjust monopoly
11/09/01: Muslim, but not extremist
11/02/01: Too good for Oprah
10/29/01: Journalism and the 'neutrality fetish'
10/26/01: Derail these subsidies
10/22/01: Good and evil in the New York Times
10/15/01: Rush Limbaugh's ear
10/08/01: With allies like these
10/01/01: An unpardonable act
09/28/01: THE CENSORS ARE COMING! THE CENSORS ARE COMING!
09/25/01: Speaking out against terror
09/21/01: What the terrorists saw
09/17/01: Calling evil by its name
09/13/01: Our enemies mean what they say
09/04/01: The real bigots
08/31/01: Shrugging at genocide
08/28/01: Big Brother's privacy -- or ours?
08/24/01: The mufti's message of hate
08/21/01: Remembering the 'Wall of Shame'
08/16/01: If I were the editor ...
08/14/01: If I were the Transportation Czar ...
08/10/01: Import quotas 'steel' from us all
08/07/01: Is gay "marriage" a threat?
08/03/01: A colorblind nominee
07/27/01: Eminent-domain tortures
07/24/01: On protecting the flag ... and drivers ... and immigrants
07/20/01: Dying for better mileage
07/17/01: Why Americans would rather drive
07/13/01: Do these cabbies look like bigots?
07/10/01: 'Defeated in the bedroom'
07/06/01: Who's white? Who's Hispanic? Who cares?
07/02/01: Big(oted) man on campus
06/29/01: Still appeasing China's dictators
06/21/01: Cuban liberty: A test for Bush
06/19/01: The feeble 'arguments' against capital punishment
06/12/01: What energy crisis?
06/08/01: A jewel in the crown of self-government
05/31/01: The settlement myth
05/25/01: An award JFK would have liked
05/22/01: No Internet taxes? No problem
05/18/01: Heather has five mommies (and a daddy)
05/15/01: An execution, not a lynching
05/11/01: Losing the common tongue
05/08/01: Olympics 2008: Say no to Beijing
05/04/01: Do welfare mothers a kindness: Make them work
05/01/01: Another man's child
04/24/01: Sharon should have said no
04/02/01: The Inhumane Society
03/30/01: To have a friend, Caleb, be a friend
03/27/01: Is Chief Wahoo racist?
03/22/01: Ending the Clinton appeasement
03/20/01: They're coming for you
03/16/01: Kennedy v. Kennedy
03/13/01: We should see McVeigh die
03/09/01: The Taliban's wrecking job
03/07/01: The No. 1 reason to cut taxes
03/02/01: A Harvard candidate's silence on free speech
02/27/01: A lesson from Birmingham jail
02/20/01: How Jimmy Carter got his good name back
02/15/01: Cashing in on the presidency
02/09/01: The debt for slavery -- and for freedom
02/06/01: The reparations calculation
02/01/01: The freedom not to say 'amen'
01/29/01: Chavez's 'hypocrisy': Take a closer look
01/26/01: Good-bye, good riddance
01/23/01: When everything changed (mostly for the better)
01/19/01: The real zealots
01/16/01: Pardon Clinton?
01/11/01: The fanaticism of Linda Chavez
01/09/01: When Jerusalem was divided
01/05/01 THEY NEVER FORGOT THEE, O JERUSALEM
12/29/00 Liberal hate speech, 2000
12/15/00Does the Constitution expect poor children be condemned to lousy government schools?
12/08/00 Powell is wrong man to run State Department
12/05/00 The 'MCAS' teens give each other
12/01/00 Turning his back on the Vietnamese -- again
11/23/00 Why were the Pilgrims thankful?
11/21/00 The fruit of this 'peace process' is war
11/13/00 Unleashing the lawyers
11/17/00 Gore's mark on history
40 reasons to say NO to Gore

© 2002, Boston Globe