|Thursday, October 7, 2004
15:11 - Let me hammer him today
So now the Duelfer Report is out, which despite headlines by mainstream media outlets fixated on perpetuating the idea that Bush somehow "lied" about WMDs, now firmly establishes a number of very uncomfortable conclusions for those who have placed all their chips on the BUSH LIED!!! side of the table.
Not only were Saddam's WMD programs evidently quite well poised for a resumption at any time, that resumption was confidently expected—by Saddam—to occur hot on the heels of the sanctions being dropped by the UN, whose French and Russian and German delegates he had been sweetly bribing for years toward the end of keeping the Americans off his back.
Glenn Reynolds has been keeping this front and center:
SADDAM HUSSEIN believed he could avoid the Iraq war with a bribery strategy targeting Jacques Chirac, the President of France, according to devastating documents released last night.
Memos from Iraqi intelligence officials, recovered by American and British inspectors, show the dictator was told as early as May 2002 that France - having been granted oil contracts - would veto any American plans for war. . . .
Saddam was convinced that the UN sanctions - which stopped him acquiring weapons - were on the brink of collapse and he bankrolled several foreign activists who were campaigning for their abolition. He personally approved every one.
To keep America at bay, he focusing on Russia, France and China - three of the five UN Security Council members with the power to veto war. Politicians, journalists and diplomats were all given lavish gifts and oil-for-food vouchers.
Tariq Aziz, the former Iraqi deputy prime minister, told the ISG that the "primary motive for French co-operation" was to secure lucrative oil deals when UN sanctions were lifted. Total, the French oil giant, had been promised exploration rights.
And what did Saddam bribe the French and Russian diplomats with? Why, that ten billion dollars that went missing from the Oil-For-Food scheme, that was supposed to pay for Iraqis' food and medicine.
In exchange for which the French and Russians and Germans pledged Saddam that they'd do everything in their power to prevent the Americans from taking him out.
Sound to you like someone that would have jumped on board with us if only we'd spent a little more time haggling at the UN, like Kerry says he would have done?
Sound to you like someone we would want to get involved in the Iraq reconstruction, or who would agree to do so even if we did, as Kerry plans to ask them to?
Sound to you like anyone whose opinions on this matter we should be taking any more seriously than we did Saddam's?
This is far uglier than any simple "smoking gun". This is exactly what Steven Den Beste suggested, last January, sick at heart, might in our darkest dreams be at the core of the controversy:
Suppose we win, which is absolutely certain.
And suppose, once we've done so, and have occupied Iraq and have full (really full, not UN full) access to Iraq's records and can truly find what they have, that we find that everything we've been saying about their WMDs is really true; that they have chem and bio weapons and banned delivery systems, and are near to developing nukes, which I also think is extremely likely.
One more and the most important: suppose that the records also show that during the 1990's companies in France or Germany (or both) actively and deliberately broke the sanctions and sold equipment and supplies to Iraq which helped it to create these things, and that the governments of Germany and France knew and approved of this and actively helped. That's the biggest and most speculative suppose.
. . .
If they (Chirac and Schröder) know that they face the scenario I described above after we invade, that would definitely explain their behavior, because preventing Anglo-American occupation of Iraq is the only conceivable way they could prevent it. If this is the case, then since no other way exists to avoid this fate and since the consequences of it are dreadful, it would make sense to continue the lost cause of trying to prevent our attack.
So the more they persist even as it becomes ever more hopeless, the more I find myself worrying that they are trying to cover up something really, really big.
Only the French and Russians weren't even doing business with Saddam, which would have been bad enough. They were taking bribes from Saddam, bribes funded by humanitarian aid money paid for by Iraqi oil and stolen by Saddam and ignored by UN officials, and accepting promises that in the future they'd be right at the top of Saddam's buddy list, in the on-deck circle to drill a bunch of new wells and secure their own private oil stash with which to become a new European superpower independent of American influence.
If that isn't the absolute lowest of lows, I don't know what could top it. I mean, at least Hitler was honest about what he was doing. At least we knew Saddam was a dictator of a Stalinist police state. But these guys? They must have known what these actions were doing to innocent Iraqis, and where they would fit on the totem pole of morality if ever called to account; but apparently, through soothing diplo-speak and polysyllabic euphemisms, they managed to convince themselves that what they were doing was excusable, even justifiable. These guys are the Zyklon-B manufacturers, the guys who built the ovens, the contractors laying the pipe. They knew what they were doing, they could have opted out, but... all in a day's work, right? A buck's a buck.
What a perfect picture of the post-modern, post-human "world beyond morality". Nothing is right or wrong anymore; it's all just a mathematical equation, a cynical calculation which either comes out positive or negative. What a great illustration of the Earth we stand to inherit once we're all dispassionate, scientific apostles to reason. It'll kill a hundred thousand people? Well, yeah, but it'll also make us billions of euros. Can't make an omelette without breaking oeufs.
Remember when we blamed huge corporations for thinking like this?
I guess that's what happens when you run your country like a corporation, with a board of directors and several thousand employees and a few million shareholders. Complete with a corporate logo and a brand identity. And market penetration statistics.
So this really isn't any worse than what we most darkly suspected, but it's still infuriating to see it right there in black and white—and yet to see some people still stubbornly taking the side of these slughearted villains, pledging to the kid with his hand stuck in the cookie jar that we'll reward him with all the cookies he can eat. We know they'll doggedly fight to the bitter end, because nothing's worth changing one's mind for—not even new facts coming to light. But by rights, John Kerry's entire case for the Presidency, centered now around Iraq's missing WMDs and the holy blessing of France and Russia and the UN, now revealed as Saddam's boot-licking, wholly-owned accomplices, ought to wither and die overnight.
But it won't. Not unless Bush is willing to hammer on this with every breath in his body from now until Election Day.
As Dean Esmay says, in his own comments:
If Bush cannot make the point, then he deserves to lose.
Yup. If he's too squeamish to point the finger of moral righteousness squarely in the faces of those who need to be on its receiving end, then he's apparently not bothered by being mistaken for just another accomplice. He did take out Saddam, yes... he did put his money where his mouth was, and his gun is now loaded again. But he'd better not get cold feet now that he has perfect license to pull the trigger.