May 18, 2003

More Troops and For Longer

More Troops and For Longer

Positive developments if we mean to seriously address attempting to create a viable Iraq polity. Looks like Dubya is turning increasingly towards advice from the State Department on events in Iraq, ie. turnover to Iraqis to occur later than expected per Foggy Bottom preferences, more boots on the ground for longer, and so on.

So I'm not as gloomy as Lawrence Kaplan about an alleged emerging policy consensus in Washington that has both State and Defense looking for a hasty exit. And, who would have thought Lawrence Kaplan would be taking jabs at Ahmed Chalabi in the pages of TNR?

Meanwhile, the hunt for WMD continues to be chronicled most effectively over at the WaPo:

"No weapons of mass destruction here, sir," Deal deadpanned to his boss at a bombed-out presidential palace annex, the day after the vacuum cleaner affair. Both men were standing with handfuls of scavenged faucets, strip lights and circuit breakers. Finding no weapons to inspect, they had turned their attention to getting repair parts for their war-damaged headquarters nearby.

The search is not over, and one major part of it -- interrogation of Iraq's senior scientists and leaders -- is concealed from view. Some of Team 3's counterparts have unearthed ingredients and gear -- including transportable biological laboratories -- that could be used to build illegal arms. Any such concealment breached Iraq's obligation, under U.N. Security Council resolutions, to disclose all "dual-use" facilities.

But no one has confirmed that Iraq actually manufactured or retained a biological or chemical weapon after the last ones accounted for by U.N. inspectors in 1998.

The experience of Allison's unit is typical of the weapons hunt as a whole. All four of the original site survey teams, including Allison's, are dedicating much of their time to "sensitive sites" that have no known connection to weapons of mass destruction. These sites are of interest to U.S. intelligence agencies for evidence of crimes against humanity or links to terrorists, among other subjects. Three of the four "mobile exploitation teams" -- another kind of search unit -- have also shed their weapons experts and moved on to other missions. Only one is still searching full time for weapons of mass destruction."

A good number of us are potentially going to have a lot of egg on our faces if more substantial caches of WMD aren't found in the coming weeks and months. Democracy-building is fine and noble--but the U.S. and U.K. marched into Baghdad and Basra because of a post-9/11 stategic paradigm shift related to denying terror regimes access to WMD. And while you could still make an argument that Iraq was in violation of Resolution 1441 per some of the "dual-use" facilities unearthed to date or small sarin gas finds and the like--we would make a much stronger case should the finds be significant in scale rather than de minimis in nature.

More on this soon.

Posted by Gregory at May 18, 2003 01:23 PM
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