May 13, 2006
Mahmoud, Son of Xerox
While listening to all the huffing and puffing Iran has been doing lately, how they're going to drive us into the sea if we attack them, a thought just occurred me.
One of the reasons we were so certain that Saddam Hussein had "large stockpiles of WMD" is that the correspondence we obtained, both before and even after the March, 2003 invasion, described those stockpiles in loving detail. Every general was completely convinced -- that some other unit had the CBW rockets and artillery shells.
This is why we were so puzzled when we removed the Baath Party and its petulant leader but then couldn't find any such stockpiles. Oh, we found a great deal of WMD, typically in the form of 55-gallon drums of Cyclosarin pesticide hidden in camouflaged ammunition bunkers near empty chemical munitions (which the Iraq Survey Group -- created by and under the control of the CIA -- refused to count as WMD). But nothing like the vast piles and heaps we expected to find.
Most Iraq watchers today concede that there were no such "stockpiles" since the Gulf War; when we first inspected Iraq's weaponry back in 1991, we were startled by how much he had; we destroyed everything we found over the next few years... and then, twelve years later, we were equally startled by how little he had compared to what his own secret paperwork intimated.
The programs had continued and were poised to recreate the entire arsenal of 1991 as soon as the sanctions were lifted (which, absent the war, would have happened by now). But it turns out that those programs were far less successful and productive than the Republican Guard thought -- which means far less than Saddam himself thought, for he had no reason to trick his own Army into thinking it was stronger than it was.
Which can only mean that Saddam's own scientists were lying to him all along, pretending signficantly greater progress than the reality.
They'd had little success in the nuclear arena, and they were afraid to tell him. They'd had just as little success finding a way to reconstitute their CBW without the inspectors finding out -- and they were afraid to tell him that, too. Instead, they fed Saddam fairy fancies that made him think he was sitting atop the ummah's greatest WMD arsenal outside of Pakistan... when in fact he had bupkis, nothing beyond pesticides in chemical shells (which is so 1980s -- still dangerous to his peers but not particularly to us).
I have described it thus: we thought we were striking Saddam at two minutes to midnight; but in fact, it was twenty minutes to midnight. (I originally used this metaphor on Patterico's Pontifications nearly a year ago; but I think I'll repost it here as a Scaley Classic, immediately following this post.)
That certainly doesn't mean we were wrong; it's actually much better to take out such arsenals while they're still in embryo. It just makes it harder to convince those determined not be convinced.
I have been trying to square what I know about the staggering advances in American military training, tactics, and technology with the grandiose claims of the Iranian military and political leadership... and it suddenly occurred to me that exactly the same dynamic is in place in Iran as Iraq:
- A ruthless dictatorship determined to conquer first the region, then the world;
- A crash program to develop WMD, which are given the highest priority by the rulling mullahs;
- The refusal to accept failure, coupled with impatience for progress;
- And the well-founded suspicion among scientists that reporting slow or no progress might be a quick route to the torture chambers or a beheading.
Is it not likely that the same dynamic produces the same result: that the Iranian scientists are lying in their teeth to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and "Supreme Leader" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei about the state of Iran's non-traditional weaponry? Is it possible Iran is actually as unarmed -- and unknowing -- as Iraq was?
Obviously, we cannot rely upon this in our planning; but we must at least plan for it, in case we should strike Iran and the anticipated WMD attacks not forthcome. We must ask, if they suddenly discover they don't have the weapons they thought, what is the second thing they'll do (after first executing all the scientists)?
Let's bear this possibility in mind: all of Iran's bragging and blowing may be, as MacBeth put it, "sound and fury, signifying nothing."
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 13, 2006, at the time of 6:51 PM
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Tracked on June 21, 2006 3:57 PM
The following hissed in response by: Don
The plight of the Iraqi WMD 'scientists' reminds me of the old legend of the scholar who agreed to train the King's horse to speak. He explained to his student: "I was going to be executed, but now I have a year. I may die. The King may die. Or the Horse may learn to speak!'
I think they were going to string out the old man until he died then escape or disappear during the succession crisis - if not earlier.
The following hissed in response by: Terrye
Well as for the wmd, who knows? The truth is we did not sneak up on the crazy bastard so they might be anywhere or nowhere.
But as far as Iran is concerned. I have had the same thought, exactly. And this time I want it on record that the world really does believe the mad mullahs are armed.
The above hissed in response by: Terrye at May 13, 2006 8:27 PM
The following hissed in response by: Cowgirl
Anytime President Bush wants to call for the nuclear football and throw it at Iran, is just fine and dandy with me.
Its a lot better to act in our country's best interest and say, "Oops" than to hesitate and say, "Oh s**t."
The above hissed in response by: Cowgirl at May 14, 2006 3:57 AM
The following hissed in response by: Screwtape
Sounds plausible -- except that, for the second time in three years, the IAEA found traces of enriched uranium in Iran:
"Atomic inspectors have found traces of highly enriched uranium on equipment linked to an Iranian military base, raising new questions about whether Iran harbors a clandestine program to make nuclear bombs, diplomats said yesterday."
Not that I trust the UN entirely, but even a stopped clock, and all that...
The following hissed in response by: cdquarles
I have another question to add to the list. How many 400,000 sq. ft. hidden, reinforced, underground bunkers are there in Iraq?
The above hissed in response by: cdquarles at May 20, 2006 2:47 AM
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