Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Chemical Weapons Meme Strikes Back!

My Republican friends are all excited and feverishly sending out a pic from AC360 of a chemical weapons facility in Iraq now in extremist hands. They are proudly trumpeting the meme that this proves that Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons, thus justifying the invasion of Iraq.

However, this meme falls apart quickly. From the Guardian: 

"ISG found no direct evidence that Iraq, after 1996, had plans for a new BW [biological warfare] programme or was conducting BW-specific work for military purposes," the report concluded, adding that "there appears to be a complete absence of discussion or even interest in BW at the presidential level". 
- Source: There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, The Guardian (7 October 2004)

The Wall Street journal also says:

"During the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, Hussein used the Muthanna complex to make chemical weapons, including sarin, mustard gas, and VX (a nerve agent), according the Iraq Study Group, which conducted the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in the aftermath of the war. 
The Iraq Study group did find chemical munitions at Muthanna but determined that inspections by United Nations Special Commission, or Unscom, had ensured the facility was dismantled and remaining chemical stocks militarily useless and sealed in bunkers. 
"'Two wars, sanctions and Unscom oversight reduced Iraqi's premier production facility to a stockpile of old damaged and contaminated chemical munitions (sealed in bunkers), a wasteland full of destroyed chemical munitions, razed structures, and unusable war-ravaged facilities,' the Iraq Study Group's 2004 report concluded."

So the fact is that Hussein had no chemical weapons, while the Bush administration tauted us with “a smoking gun” that never existed.

This is not to say that Hussein never had weapons. It is well known that he used chemical weapons against the Kurdish minority. Of course, in 1988 when Donald Rumsfeld (later George W. Bush's Secretary of Defense) met with and set up an alliance between the Reagan administration and Iraq, this was well known but no-one minded back then. Iran's enemy was our friend. 

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