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Why Did We Send Inspectors To Iraq, Again?

January 24, 2008

First, the story:  Interrogator: Invasion Surprised Saddam  

Saddam Hussein initially didn’t think the U.S. would invade Iraq to destroy weapons of mass destruction, so he kept the fact that he had none a secret to prevent an Iranian invasion he believed could happen. The Iraqi dictator revealed this thinking to George Piro, the FBI agent assigned to interrogate him after his capture…

hmmm…did Piro ask him nicely, or was there waterboarding involved? Was Saddam really playing the “peace through (perceived) strength” game?

Anyway…

Second, cue the predictable knee-jerk rightosphere reaction: Saddam lied, people died (x2) oops … (x3) darnit! (x4) you gotta be kidding me (x5)
cliffs notes: The war was necessary because Bush (and the rest of the world) believed Saddam’s lies.  Ergo, Bush exonerated.

Third, a nice stroll down memory lane, hinting at how much Bush actually believed what Saddam was saying at the time (a visual aid via the White House site):

iraq_header_final.gif

I love this.  We presumably sent in inspectors because we didn’t trust Saddam (inspectors that we may recall, were advised by us to leave Iraq, after they had found nothing).  Now these bloggers are implying that the war was necessary because…everyone believed him anyway?  Let me get this straight.  Saddam  was lying before, but not then, and he certainly wasn’t lying to the FBI guy Mr. Piro, so….I’m confused, ’cause somewhere in there Saddam became more trustworthy than the inspectors.  Wait a second…then why did we even bother sending them?

Oh!  I remember:

It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.

I think the bottom line here is that Saddam didn’t think we were crazy enough to spend a trillion dollars and stir up a hornets nest by invading Iraq based on his rep and flimsy intel, especially with the reality of empty-handed U.N. weapons inspectors. He was “surprised” because he had no idea that we were going in regardless.

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25 comments

  1. I don’t want to get into a pissing contest over Iraq with you since I reckon that you have your rock-solid opinion on the war, as do I…

    However, I will say that there was more justification for the war than most people realize. I was deployed to the Persian Gulf as part of operation Southern Watch in 2001, and even then we were involved in combat operations in Iraq. We sent numerous air strikes against targets at that time because Saddam liked to push his limits and test our resolve.

    Much of what Saddam was doing was in violation of the terms of his surrender in 1991 and hence illegal on the national stage. The UN, however, is too inept to give a shit which left the enforcement of the terms up to us.

    Saddam was in violation of so many internationally standard laws and rules of conduct that it’s absurd that anybody would think that war was unjustified in any way. For those who are simply universally opposed to war, more power to them, but leave the enforcement of policy to the people who understand what’s going on.


  2. “Saddam was in violation of so many internationally standard laws”

    So is Israel. Are you ready to go in there, too?


  3. What’s crazy Chen, is how badly I was chastized by the right back on FB before we invaded, because I simply suggested Saddam was bluffing to keep the tough guy front up…funny how that works out…lol


  4. You can’t give SH such a free pass. He did indeed harass and deter the inspectors in many ways. Was this part of the tough guy facade or false cunning secondary to finding it unimaginable anyone (even Bush 2) was going to get out of UN (and Bush Sr. & Clinton) character and do something ? The exile bribe Saddam meekly asked for would’ve been a much better expenditure I’ll give you that.


  5. Ryan- I know you’re not alone on that position, but it still begs the question as to why we even bothered sending in the inspectors. If war was justified WMD’s or no, that is…

    Sliq- It’s too bad that FB is down and we can’t retrieve that. If you know what post or what approx. date I might be able to find it though. It’s definately worth a thread. 😉

    in2thefray-

    The exile bribe Saddam meekly asked for would’ve been a much better expenditure I’ll give you that.

    I still wonder what would have happened if Bush had accepted Saddam’s offer for a televised debate too.


  6. “He did indeed harass and deter the inspectors in many ways. Was this part of the tough guy facade”

    Yes. By never fully disclosing his non-stockpile of weapons, he was keeping his enemies guessing. It’s called a tactic. Considering the current events of the time, he knew what would happen if people knew he had no defenses.

    And I’m not giving Saddam a free pass, but at the time, he really wasn’t a threat to us. I would have much rather finished the job in Afghanistan, and actually diverted the billions of wasted dollars in Iraq, on finding Bin Laden, then moving on to other threats…But that’s just me. I don’t believe it’s out job to be nation builders.

    Chen,

    It would have been sometime after I joined and before the war…not very specific, I know…


  7. Just curious…

    Considering the current events of the time, he knew what would happen if people knew he had no defenses.

    Iraq was essentially under the pseudo protection/antagonism of the US/UN.Who was worrying about his defenses or what was his concern ?


  8. Seriously?

    Iran. Israel. Turkey. The U.S. His enemies inside Iraq.

    mainly Iran and the U.S. though. He wasn’t protected from us in any form.

    I am willing to bet, that if he did actually have WMD, we would not have invaded. Our intell knew better, so they went after him.


  9. My bad I thought being surrounded by the USN in the Gulf,US land forces in Kuwait,USAF and other nations air wings along the Arabia coast maintaining no fly zones were.


  10. I guess I don’t see how frequently bombing them meant we were protecting them?!?!?


  11. @Sliquid. I apologize for the disservice of such a short answer previously. Where I was going with it was that Iraq’s regional enemies especially Iran were in no way going to be allowed to attack as if they wanted to do so.The no fly would’ve been in effect inbound as well as outbound. Being surrounded and under the mandates they were (UN resolutions,oil for French profit err I mean food)essentially a dependent.The blustering of “I’ve got WMD so leave me alone” is a little silly. I would also interject that having been exposed to the operational concept of “Modern Air Land Warfare” Saddam could’ve had an unlimited amount of WMD and the attack would’ve been unleashed as it was. Here’s my cookie to the opposition as well as the proponents of military action.WMD has expiration dates
    and the two sides (US & IRAQ) are equally guilty to have dismissed that fact and played the sad game of flinch that they did. Thanks for the discussion I think I just thought up a very personal post.


  12. Oh, you Chenzhen types aren’t going to like this article and it’s not even supportive of Bush. You Obama loving libs might want to think about what the man says…

    http://patdollard.com/2008/01/the-most-important-article-bash-has-ever-posted-here/

    Actually, this guy pretty much speaks for me as to America’s long term strategy and well gang, he’s forgotten more about war than this entire aggregate blog knows.


  13. ChenZen said:

    “Ryan- I know you’re not alone on that position, but it still begs the question as to why we even bothered sending in the inspectors. If war was justified WMD’s or no, that is…”

    Sadly, you have to play the game some times. If I had to guess, the administration was hoping to find a more universally acceptable rationale to take Saddam out since many people would have been happy if we just turned a blind eye to Saddam’s transgressions.

    Clinton let Saddam walk all over him and didn’t do a thing about it, which was a mistake. It let Saddam get cocky and bold. The reason that we performed air strikes during Southern Watch was because Saddam kept pushing and testing his boundaries. He was not happy that he had to abide by a treaty of surrender and had no intention of upholding his end. If we hadn’t continued our vigilance over there, there’s no telling what he would have done.


  14. Ryan- What you’re saying here flies in the face of public statements made by the administration. These Senators supposedly signed that AUMF believing that inspections were the best way to avoid invasion. The “game”, as you put it, apparently involved misleading the American people about a war that you are conceding was premeditated.

    You’re OK with that?


  15. Chen, look at it this way:

    First, I have and do support the war.

    Second, my rationale for supporting the war has little to do with the administration’s justifications.

    Third, it is unfortunate that the administration was more concerned with public opinion and appearances than in simply telling the truth, but it doesn’t change the fact that the war was fully justified. I would also assume that yes, the war was premeditated, and given Iraq and Saddam’s history I would say that plans to take him out had been on the table for a while.

    Look at it this way, what if at the end of WW2 we had allowed Hitler and the Nazis to surrender and part of the terms of their surrender included provisions that they must stop their crimes. However, in defiance of the treaty, they continued with their atrocities anyway. So long as they didn’t invade greater Europe again or go “too far,” would it be OK for us to just turn a blind eye?


  16. Ryan-

    Third, it is unfortunate that the administration was more concerned with public opinion and appearances than in simply telling the truth, but it doesn’t change the fact that the war was fully justified. I would also assume that yes, the war was premeditated, and given Iraq and Saddam’s history I would say that plans to take him out had been on the table for a while.

    Don’t you think that if the war really did have iron-clad justification, they wouldn’t need to lie about it?


  17. you’re making the assumption that people would accept any justification for war in this day and age unless it was so horrible that war was inevitable. Our government is being run more on popular opinion than reality. It seemed to have started with Clinton and has really carried forth with George W. It’s all a media show, and the better they can make things look, the better it is for them (hence the whole global warming fiasco).

    Of course, when it backfires like it did with Iraq, and the public finds out that some things were embellished to help foster more public support, it really screws up the system. Even though there was real justifiable rationale to go in and take out Saddam, at this point it doesn’t matter because the people are pissed off and single-minded


  18. Ryan- With all due respect, lets just cut to the chase and stop kidding ourselves. The Iraq war was not about oil, U.N violations or Saddam’s perceived threat. This was a war borne in the post-9/11 climate. In its most basic and primitive rationale, it was an attempt to show the Islamic world how “tough” we are.

    The environment was certainly there. You had the neocons in the administration like Rummy and Cheney who had wanted to take on Iraq all along, and you also had people like Gingrich who felt that bombing caves in Afghanistan wasn’t a significant enough response. You also had people like Rove who felt that pushing for it meant that you could paint those who were being more cautious and reasonable about it as being “soft on terrorism”. And let’s face it, there were generally enough people here that felt that kicking some “Arab ass” was going to be perfectly acceptable, especially if it was our old nemesis Saddam.

    So what happened? They scraped together whatever intel they had, added in a drumbeat, and took the necessary steps to make it so. Steps that, to the point of this thread, included a giant dog and pony show about WMDs and sending in inspectors.

    All this retrospective twisting and turning and trying to find the justification for it is something that I’m sure any Iraq war supporter would do, in light of how it went and the fact that Saddam turned out to be relatively benign. But the bottom line is that the war was sold on false pretenses, and I think that no matter how things turn out over there, as Americans we’ll be living with that disgrace for generations (not to mention the cost).


  19. Being surrounded and under the mandates they were (UN resolutions,oil for French profit err I mean food)essentially a dependent.The blustering of “I’ve got WMD so leave me alone” is a little silly.

    But your speaking from the p.o.v. of an American sitting nice at home, not Saddam, a proud iron fisted dictator with real enemies, inside and outside of his country, with an image to maintain…

    Just think from his point of view, what he has to do in order to keep everyone in check. The middle east is a different place than here where mainstream idea’s and social norms are completely differnt.

    All this retrospective twisting and turning and trying to find the justification for it is something that I’m sure any Iraq war supporter would do, in light of how it went and the fact that Saddam turned out to be relatively benign. But the bottom line is that the war was sold on false pretenses, and I think that no matter how things turn out over there, as Americans we’ll be living with that disgrace for generations (not to mention the cost).

    Absolutely. We lied to acheive a goal that isn’t paying off in anyway.

    First it was packaged and sold as Saddam being an “imminent danger”. WMD’s left and right. We must stop him before the smoking gun is a mushroom cloud in Manhattan!!!

    Then when that didn’t sell, it was “he is violating the U.N. agreements, by messing with inspectors”. Even though the U.N. wasn’t pressing the issue.

    Then it was, we need to “liberate the Iraqi’s”. Because, we actually care about them…lol

    Then it was, “he tried to kill my daddy”.

    of course, I guess you couldn’t package a b.s. war by using the truth.


  20. “Why Did We Send Inspectors To Iraq, Again?”

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/iraq/decade/sect2.html

    Here’s 1 reason: UNSCR 678 – November 29, 1990

    “Iraq must comply fully with UNSCR 660 (regarding Iraq’s illegal invasion of Kuwait) “and all subsequent relevant resolutions.”

    And another: UNSCR 687 – April 3, 1991

    “Creates the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) to verify the elimination of Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons programs and mandated that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verify elimination of Iraq’s nuclear weapons program.”

    And some more: UNSCR 707 – August 15, 1991

    “”Further condemns” Iraq’s noncompliance with IAEA and its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    Iraq must make a full, final and complete disclosure of all aspects of its weapons of mass destruction and missile programs.

    Iraq must allow UN and IAEA inspectors immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access.

    Iraq must allow UN and IAEA inspectors to conduct inspection flights throughout Iraq.”

    And more: UNSCR 715 – October 11, 1991

    “Iraq must cooperate fully with UN and IAEA inspectors.”

    And more: UNSCR 949 – October 15, 1994

    “Iraq must cooperate fully with UN weapons inspectors.”

    And the list goes on and on and on, all before we get to the W. Bush administration.

    UNSCR 1051 – March 27, 1996
    UNSCR 1060 – June 12, 1996
    UNSCR 1115 – June 21, 1997
    UNSCR 1134 – October 23, 1997
    UNSCR 1137 – November 12, 1997
    UNSCR 1154 – March 2, 1998
    UNSCR 1194 – September 9, 1998
    UNSCR 1205 – November 5, 1998
    UNSCR 1284 – December 17, 1999


  21. Red Pill- Yep, it looks like all that was pretty effective when it came to keeping WMD’s out of the hands of Saddam, as it turns out. Otherwise I’m not sure I see your point here. I’ve always agreed with agressive inspections; they were working. W. Bush used the inspectors as a facade, or as Ryan put it, a public relations cover to make the war appear legit.


  22. You asked why we sent inspectors to Iraq. The point was really just to remind you of the actual reasons.

    What it boils down to is no matter how much you all would like to point the finger at Bush II, the issues with Iraq began well before he ever entered the picture. Don’t get me wrong, Bush screwed up because he kept the ball rolling, but he only finished what others started.

    The weapons inspections were not his idea. Then again, neither was ousting Saddam, regime change in Iraq, or nation-building.

    Take a look at H.R. 4655, which was signed by President Bill Clinton in October, 1998.

    “It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.

    It is the sense of the Congress that once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq, the United States should support Iraq’s transition to democracy by providing immediate and substantial humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, by providing democracy transition assistance to Iraqi parties and movements with democratic goals, and by convening Iraq’s foreign creditors to develop a multilateral response to Iraq’s foreign debt incurred by Saddam Hussein’s regime.”

    And everyone thinks Bush came up with that all on his own.

    In December ’98 Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stated:
    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/middle_east/july-dec98/albright_12-17.html

    “Well, I think that – you know – I don’t think we’re pretending that we can get everything, so this is – I think – we are being very honest about what our ability is. We are lessening, degrading his ability to use this. The weapons of mass destruction are the threat of the future. I think the president explained very clearly to the American people that this is the threat of the 21st century.

    It’s hard to control, hard to get at, that we need to – you know – Saddam Hussein had the capability to – with the VX agents – to destroy every man, woman, and child on Earth. So we have a serious problem here. He is a threat, and what the president decided to do, I think, was very sound, very important for our national security and take action when he could, and what it means is that we know we can’t get everything, but degrading is the right word.”

    She doesn’t sound very confident on the subject of Iraq’s WMDs does she?

    I guess George Bush wasn’t the only person to buy Saddam’s BS.


  23. Well that bill was certainly toothless legislation. It was basically a statement of position. That is, support for the removal of Saddam Hussein from power and to support democratic ideals. It obviously didn’t mandate the removal of him by force or by invasion, much less doing so under the guise of a desire for a peaceful resolution.

    Let’s use a simple analogy here. Bush is the cop that wanted to kill the perp, so he made sure to go through the motions of patting him down first so he could at least attempt to claim the perp was resisting arrest.


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