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Previously: All you need to know about Mitt Romney’s views on foreign policy (March 19, 2012)

Molly Ivins, almost nine years ago:

Molly Ivins

What WMD’s?

April 29, 2003

….In the weeks before Gulf War II, the United States told the world Saddam Hussein was hiding mobile chemical laboratories, drones fitted with poison sprays, 15 to 20 Scud missile launchers, 5,000 gallons of anthrax, several tons of VX nerve gas agent and between 100 tons and 500 tons of other toxins, including botulinun, mustard gas, ricin and Sarin. Also, we said he had over 30,000 illegal munitions. So far, we have found bupkes.

The United States, which insisted it could not give United Nations weapons inspectors so much as 10 days more to search, so dangerous were these WMDs, now says it needs months to find them. In the meantime, we are clearly being set up to put the whole issue of WMDs down the memory hole. Here are the lines of argument advanced by the administration so far:

— Saddam did have WMDs, but in a wily plot, he poured them all down a drain right before we invaded, just so he could embarrass Bush.

— The WMDs are still there, but in some remote desert hiding place we may never be able to find. “Just because we haven’t found anything doesn’t mean it wasn’t there,” one Pentagon source told the Los Angeles Times. Right.

— Saddam had WMDs, but he handed them off to the Syrians just before we came in. Or maybe it was to the Iranians.

— Well, maybe Saddam didn’t have huge stores of WMDs, but he had critical blueprints, weapons parts and, most ominously, “precursor chemicals,” so he could have manufactured WMDs.

— Well, maybe he didn’t have WMDs ready to deliver. The Pentagon has already backtracked on the Scud-missile claim.

So far, U.S. “mobile exploitation teams” and other special forces have visited 90 of the top 150 “hot” sites identified by U.S. intelligence. No wonder Hans Blix, head of the U.N. inspection team, says what he got from American intelligence was “garbage.”

I’m sorry, but this does make a difference. The problem is called credibility….

[emphasis added]

Ambassador John Bolton, in June 2010, about the same thing:

….Question: …Now, I notice you’ve been putting down the current administration quite a bit. [crosstalk] I recall…

Ambassador Bolton: Not really, I haven’t even gotten started yet.

Question: Oh, okay, well,[applause, cheers]…

Now, now going back to two thousand three when we went into the Iraq war, if I recall, you and the Bush administration supported the Iraq war quite substantially. Now, what is your justification for going into the war since they had no nuclear weapons and then themselves had no threat to the United States as a whole? [applause, cheers]

Ambassador Bolton: Well, I, I view, I view the regime of Saddam Hussein as a threat to international peace and security. And I felt that, uh, after the first gulf war, uh, there was unfinished business in leaving him in power. Uh, now don’t get me wrong, when President Bush forty-one, uh, stopped the, uh, military action and, uh, when he did and essentially took the steps that allowed Saddam to remain in power, at the time I thought that was the right course of action. Uh, and it was only with the passage of time that I realized that, uh, that had been a mistake. Uh, so I view the decision, uh, in two thousand three to overthrow Saddam, eh, effectively as a continuation of the first Persian Gulf War. Uh, and this is not unusual in history, in Europe they had the Thirty-Years War, uh, things go on for a long period of time. But essentially, removing Saddam Hussein was important to remove a threat, uh, that he posed, he and his regime posed in the region and around the world.

Now, the question of whether the regime possessed weapons of mass destruction, uh, I think is one that has been badly misunderstood. There is simply no question that had Saddam accomplished his objectives of eliminating the, uh, U.N. sanctions, uh, and getting U.N. weapons inspectors out of Iraq, which would have happened as soon as the sanctions regime was lifted entirely, uh, he would have gone back to the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. During the entire period of time after, uh, the nineteen ninety nineteen ninety-one, uh, war he kept, on his payroll, uh, thousands of nuclear scientists and technicians. He called them his nuclear mujahedeen. And there’s no doubt that once the inspectors were gone he would have gone back to his efforts to, uh, achieve nuclear weapons.

Uh, now some people have said that the, uh, failure to find, uh, nuclear weapons or chemical weapons, uh, in Iraq was, was either because the administration distorted what his capabilities were, or that it was an intelligence failure and that, uh, what we know today proves that we shouldn’t have gone to war against Iraq. Well, I can tell you it was not an exaggeration, uh, because you can’t do that in Washington and not read about it in the paper the next day. Nor was it an intelligence failure. The fear that we had about Iraq’s, particularly its chemical weapons, came not from intelligence but came from Iraq’s own declarations in nineteen ninety-one as a condition of the ceasefire after the first Persian Gulf War. Iraq claimed that it had enormous quantities of chemical weapons and under, uh, uh, Resolution Six Eighty-Seven, the so called Security Council Ceasefire Resolution, Iraq was required, uh, to, uh, destroy the weapons that it declared, uh, or to prove to the U.N. weapons inspectors that it had destroyed the weapons. So when the weapons inspectors went in and they began to destroy, uh, various aspects of, of Saddam’s nuclear program and his ballistic missile program, uh, the U.N. weapons inspectors said to the Iraqi’s, show us the chemical weapons that you declared so that we can begin destroying them. Uh, and the Iraqi’s said in response, well, that’s okay we’ve already destroyed them all. And the U.N. weapons inspectors said, okay fine, show us the places where you destroyed the chemical weapons, show us the records how the destruction took place, introduce us to the scientists and technicians who carried out the destruction so that we can interview them and verify that in fact you have destroyed these weapons that you declared. That you declared. And the Iraqi’s said, we’re not gonna show you the locations, we’re not gonna show you the documents, we’re not gonna introduce you to the people who accomplished it. Now, I will tell you there was not anybody involved in dealing with Iraq who didn’t believe that, uh, the Iraqis were flat out lying about having destroyed all those weapons. Uh, they, they had declared that they had the weapons and they produced no proof, uh, to support their assertions that they had destroyed the weapons. So, everybody believed, everybody believed that the weapons still existed. Uh, and in fact, that’s why when American and other coalition forces went in to Iraq they took with them chemical weapons protective gear which is incredibly bulky, cumbersome, and in the middle of, uh, the, uh, Iraqi summer, extremely hot. No responsible American general would burden his troops with that chemical weapons protective gear unless they thought that there was a real risk that Saddam would use chemical weapons. Uh, and in fact, many people around the world argued against the American attack precisely on the grounds that it would provoke Saddam to use the chemical weapons that he had declared.

Uh, now, in fact, uh no chemical weapons were used during the second Persian Gulf War and we have not located, uh, anything but little bits and traces of the chemical weapons capability. Now that means one
of several things. First, that somehow or another Saddam had destroyed the chemical weapons.
But there is simply no, uh, uh, no evidence anywhere that that’s happened. It’s not something that you just kind of dump into the Tigris and Euphrates River, uh, unless you want to kill everything in it for hundreds of miles. Uh, the, if you look at the way the United States is destroying its own chemical weapons supplies it’s in very tightly controlled  circumstances. This is an extraordinarily hazardous, uh, thing to do, uh, with great risk of, uh, uh, of people getting killed if the process goes wrong. So, to have destroyed the, uh, supplies that Iraq claimed would have, there would have been evidence of it and we’ve found no such evidence. Second possibility is he shipped it out of the country. We just don’t know whether he did or not. Third possibility is that he buried it in the desert somewhere. Now, hard as that is to believe, you ought to go on, uh, the Internet and find the pictures that American troops took of big fighter planes wrapped in burlap buried in the desert sands being uncovered by American bulldozers. It’s like scenes out of Planet of the Apes with wings and tail fins of Migs peering out of the desert sand. Anybody who’s crazy enough to bury Mig fighters in the desert is probably crazy enough to bury chemical weapons. [applause] But we haven’t, we haven’t found that. So, so that, please, don’t go away, I’m not done yet. [laughter] That leaves the possibility that Saddam was lying about his chemical weapons capabilities in nineteen ninety-one when he made the declarations to the United Nations. That, that may be the most likely outcome. That shows how profoundly, uh, deceptive and threatening this regime was. But, but let’s be clear, the decision to remove Saddam Hussein was a plus for the United States and the world, it has, it has removed one of the most dangerous regimes, uh, in the Middle East, it has given the Israeli [sic] people the chance for self government, which they hadn’t had in their entire history, uh, and I think that it will lead, uh, to, to greater peace and security for the United States. [applause, cheers]….

[underline emphasis added]

Oh, I see, you’ve already met.

Yep, credibility. That’s the core of Mitt Romney’s (r) views on foreign policy.