Imagine that you are witnessing a trial for public endangerment and a parole violation; the suspect is a prior convicted murderer and is a capable gunsmith, who killed his prior victims with a very specific and unique type of firearm. As part of his plea deal during the last set of murders he committed, the suspect agreed to give up his weapons not already seized or destroyed, all ammo and any facilities or utilities used in the production of weapons. Under this agreement, scheduled followups are made to check that he had indeed removed his arms and capability of creating more.
Through a grueling process over the course of a decade, the authorities have been witness to the suspects attempting to hide information and materials related to the violation his plea agreement. Recently, a family member has come forward and confirmed that not only is the suspect hiding ordnance he was supposed to have gotten rid of, but is reacquiring the items necessary to create more.
Under the premise that the man is a possible threat to the public safety, the authorities secure a search warrant and force entry into the house, leading to conflict with the suspect. Inside the house the authorities find weapons, ammunition and gunsmithing utilities the individual was supposed to have removed and actively hid from inspection; they find limited evidence to indicate that he has actively created or attempted to create additional ordnance in the meanwhile. Fearing the weapons might pose danger to their agents and the public, the authorities use controlled detonations to destroy the evidence. It sounds like a straight forward case, but the argument put forward by the defense has a very strange twist, they argue that the suspect is innocent. They base this on the fact that there were no new firearms or munitions, even though the evidence itself, outside of pictures, is destroyed. The logical disjunction from the charges and basis for the original warrant is staggering: welcome to Von Clausewitz post-2003 Iraq politics.
The popular argument, flying in the face of empirical evidence from over a decade of conflict, has been that no WMDs, general term, were found or used in Iraq, by either Iraqi forces or insurgents. The oft quoted pretext for war or the search warrant, in the earlier analogy, is put before the UN by President Bush on Sept 12, 2002. Let’s take a recent example of this type of defense citing the Bush speech, in a response to the New York Times article covering the massive amounts of chemical weapons, a WMD, found in Iraq over the last decade:
But on Septmeber 12, 2002, President Bush described a different threat while making the case for the 2003 Iraq invasion: “Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.” The Times’ investigation doesn’t mention any findings of biological weapons.
He went on, “The regime is rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons.”
According to the investigation, the chemical weapons discovered by U.S. soldiers after the 2003 invasion were all manufactured before 1991.
Directly addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Bush continued, “We have been more than patient. We have tried sanctions. We have tried the carrot of ‘oil for food’ and the stick of coalition military strikes. But Saddam Hussein has defied all these efforts and continues to develop weapons of mass destruction.”
–No, Chemical Weapons in Iraq Do Not Prove That Bush Was Right to Invade, Jessica Schulberg, New Republic.
It doesn’t take a logician to recognize the obvious red herring: the expansion and improvement of a facility does not equate to the actual production of arms, any more than our fictitious suspect having ownership of an ammo press means that ammo had been and continued to be produced. Another common usage of red herring is purposeful contextual misrepresentation. Miss Schulberg is purposely leaving out the next reason for invasion, specifically stripping it of context to continue the ”production” red herring.
Miss Schulberg’s version in No, Chemical Weapons in Iraq Do Not Prove That Bush Was Right to Invade :
“…He went on, “The regime is rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons.”…”
Direct from the speech:
“United Nations inspections also reveal that Iraq likely maintains stockpiles of VX, mustard, and other chemical agents, and that the regime is rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons.”
I’ve italicized the portion of the sentence that Miss Schulberg has misrepresented to make a point: this is feckless, purposely misleading politics posing as pseudo-journalism. Miss Schulberg is in no way unique, articles from Salon and other outlets have spoken in the affirmative that there were no WMDs, sometimes while actually including bits about WMD encounters, for virtually the entirety of the occupation and afterward. There has been regular media-Alzheimers, on all sides, for the past decade concerning the fact that there was plenty of documentation that Iraq had continued its development, while under sanction and inspections, into these weapons or that even before the New York Times piece, estimates on destroyed weapons caches put the numbers from five hundred weapons to well into the thousands.
The repeated assertion that the weapons were of pre-1991 manufacture is also entirely conjecture, especially given the documentation supporting the continued study of these weapons, due in large part that the evidence was purposely destroyed because of the threat it posed to allied troops. More importantly, it’s an inane case to forward due to the fact that the mere possession of these purposely hidden items vindicated the reasoning for invasion. It also raises the specter of what would have occurred as Saddam’s grip over the region continued to wane if we had not invaded.
President Bush’s rational for invasion was typically simple: Hussein had agreed to disarm and prove that he had disarmed, while removing his capability to rearm in the future. Hussein had proven with the invasion of Kuwait that he was willing to make unprovoked attacks in blitzkrieg fashion on his neighbors when the opportunity was presented. Hussein had made multiple agreements concerning human rights inside Iraq, then broke them. Iraq agreed not to sponsor terror, yet continued to hunt down and assassinate it’s dissenters and attempted to assassinate President Bush Sr, to which President Clinton made Tomahawk strikes against Iraq in response. After the defection of General Kamel al-Majid to Jordon, the Iraqi government admitted that they had retained a large bioweapons package from anthrax to botulin in violation of the agreed terms; these weapons were never accounted for. Iraq retained a large stockpile of chemical weapons, beyond their declared and then destroyed stockpile, which the New York Times account continues to show recent evidence of and examples of insurgents now using the weapons. President Bush pointed out that it had been four years since UN inspectors had been ejected from the country, “The history, the logic and the facts lead to one conclusion. Saddam Hussein’s regime is a grave and gathering danger. To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence. To assume this regime’s good faith is to bet the lives of millions and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble. And this is a risk we must not take.”
The questions these journalists should be asking is why the administrations involved ignored almost three thousand years of military maxim to create a quagmire, with further bungling down the line, after a successful surge strategy mopped up the majority of the original strategic error. They should be asking why the Bush administration failed to defend themselves, outside the 2006 Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence report, that WMDs had indeed been found along with materials and research for making any number of CBRN (Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) weapons in the future. Of course, given articles like Miss Schulberg there is more empirical evidence that the media simply wouldn’t allow that message to go forward leading to the populace believing largely that there was no vindication for the invasion.
To conclude, the vast majority pretense presented in the case for invasion has been vindicated. However, the populace has been spun to believe that these are not the things we went to find after years of “journalism” by those like Miss Schulberg, regardless of political stripe. The press, instead of asking pertinent questions on policy and execution thereof, attempted to force creation of non-legislated mob based policy: to the dishonor of this nation, they succeeded. I’ll leave you with a little more of President Bush’s speech.
“If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles and all related material.
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all support for terrorism and act to suppress it, as all states are required to do by U.N. Security Council resolutions.
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi’a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans and others — again as required by Security Council resolutions.
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will release or account for all Gulf War personnel whose fate is still unknown. It will return the remains of any who are deceased, return stolen property, accept liability for losses resulting from the invasion of Kuwait, and fully cooperate with international efforts to resolve these issues as required by the Security Council resolutions.
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all illicit trade outside the oil-for-food program. It will accept U.N. administration of funds from that program, to ensure that the money is used fairly and promptly for the benefit of the Iraqi people.
If all these steps are taken, it will signal a new openness and accountability in Iraq. And it could open the prospect of the United Nations helping to build a government that represents all Iraqis — a government based on respect for human rights, economic liberty and internationally supervised elections.”