Friday, October 08, 2004

The Duelfer Report

The mainstream media's reporting on the Duelfer Report has been, for the most part, disgraceful. thay have taken teh fact that there were no stockpiles of weapons within Iraq, something 99% of the world already knew, and tried to turn it into a statement against the war in Iraq. They are hoping that the American people never look deepr than a headline into what was happening in Iraq. They have failed to report that Duelfer himslef reported to the Senate that the report he filed vindicated the war. that he hmslef believes after his investigation that Saddam hussein was a threat that had to be dealt with. In a world wher the removal of George Bush is more important than the removal of Saddam Hussein, these facts are irrelevent.

There are several good opinion pieces on the Duelfer Report and testimony today. The first is by Claudia Rosett, the Wall Street Journal reporter who first broke the UN Oil-for-Food scam, and who has been shouting from the roof tops about the corruprion for years now. An excerpt:

As Duelfer documents, Oil-for-Food allowed Saddam to replenish his empty coffers, firm up his networks for hiding money and buying arms, corrupt the U.N.'s own debates over Iraq, greatly erode sanctions and deliberately prep the ground for further rearming, including the acquisition of nuclear weapons. As set up and run by the U.N., Oil-for-Food devolved into a depraved and increasingly dangerous mockery of what was advertised by the U.N. as a relief program for sick and starving Iraqis.

Another must read is by Andrew Apostalou in the New York Post. An excerpt:

A French legislator told Iraqi intelligence in May 2002 that France would veto any U.N. resolution authorizing war against Saddam. That promise proved more trustworthy than what the French were telling the Americans until January 2003.

The other part of Saddam's Coalition of the Bribed was a network of suppliers, companies and countries that broke the sanctions to help his war machine. Saddam set up front companies that worked with foreign governments, and helped him to buy embargoed goods, whether for conventional weapons or for programs that could be used for WMD. The Syrian government, which is now helping terrorists in Iraq, was a key partner in sending banned items to Iraq.

Thanks to his own coalition, Saddam was able to plead poverty even while building palaces, to claim he was WMD-free even as he retained his WMD ambitions and know-how.

Saddam understood what the political partisans do not: Getting rid of the stockpiles was not the end of the story, just a holding action.

Despite 12 years of sanctions and nearly eight years of inspections, Duelfer reports that Saddam as of April 2003 could have produced deadly mustard gas in months and highly toxic nerve agents within a couple of years. And while U.N. inspectors were still in Iraq, Saddam's scientists were performing deadly experiments on human guinea pigs in secret labs.

All Saddam needed was more time — a few more years of Oil-for-Food, and the sanctions would have vanished in all but name. With his Coalition of the Bribed providing diplomatic cover and vital supplies, he could have re-started WMD production whenever it suited him.

Saddam was determined one day to threaten us again. Fortunately, there was another coalition led by the United States that decided that his time was up.

From today's Washington Times:

Yes, the report found no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq since the war began in March 2003. It also concluded that whatever illicit weapons Saddam Hussein did possess were most likely destroyed just after the 1991 Gulf War in accordance with U.N. sanctions. But were these the findings that the report highlighted in the first line of its Key Findings summary? No. "Saddam [Hussein] so dominated the Iraqi Regime that its strategic intent was his alone," the summary begins. "He wanted to end sanctions while preserving the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) when sanctions were lifted."
This hardly sounds as if the Iraq Survey Group, headed by Charles A. Duelfer, thought Saddam was cooperating with the international community. The fact is that U.N. sanctions did have a debilitating effect on Iraq and Saddam's weapons programs. But as the report notes, "Saddam's primary goal from 1991 to 2003 was to have UN sanctions lifted, while maintaining the security of the Regime. He sought to balance the need to cooperate with the UN inspections — to gain support for lifting the sanctions — with his intention to preserve Iraq's intellectual capital for WMD with a minimum of foreign intrusiveness and loss of face." International pressure to lift the sanctions led to the establishment of the Oil for Food program, which Saddam immediately saw "could be corrupted to acquire foreign exchange both to further undermine sanctions and to provide the means to enhance dual-use infrastructure and potential WMD-related development."
Saddam focused his attention on three members of the Security Council — France, China and Russia — by bribing government officials and business executives with billions of dollars skimmed from Oil for Food. "At a minimum," the report says, "Saddam wanted to divide the five permanent members [of the Security Council] and foment international public support of Iraq at the UN and throughout the world by a savvy public relations campaign and an extensive diplomatic effort." Indeed, Saddam's ploy almost worked: "By 2000-2001, Saddam had managed to mitigate many of the effects of sanctions and undermine their international support," the report said.

John Kerry and the media have distilled what amounts to a world wide scandal that was allowing Saddam's regime to refill its war chest and lay the ground work for the production of WMD into a one phrase condemnation of the President. They are playing a dangerous game. If John Kerry cannot see that the corruption in the UN Oil for Food program, the bribery of permanent members of the security council, and Saddam's desire to threaten the world was a threat that had to be dealt with, how can he be trusted to handle Ira, or North Korea or Syria?

Be sure to check the current posts for updates.