Why not use third party verfication for WoMD hunt?

In this thread, “Anonymous Scientist :Iraq destroyed own WMD?!”, I posted a number of items that began to look like a hijack. Randy Spears suggested that the topic was worthy of a thread in and of itself, and I concur. So here it is.

For those uninterested in reading the other thread, I will recreate support for the issue here.

From the Washington Post today:

Now, this article leads one to believe that administration officials, privately, are beginning to question some of the WoMD precepts of the war. However, this article from Reuters today suggests that CentCom, publicly, isn’t giving the same message:

In the orginal thread, I postulated that this is beginning to sound more like fundamentalist faith instead of reasoned opinion based on credible evidence.

Back to the original thread, I also quoted from this article in today’s Washington Post:

I noted that Blix’ desire to operate unfettered seemed reasonable to me, and that the US’ plan to “go it alone” was a recipe for disaster. I had previously responded to this query in the original thread:

With this:

In my final post in that thread (before this one), I pondered:

So, these questions in the quote immediately above are the ones I would like to discuss in this thread.


Uh, loss of face for the US?

Now, before I could get this OP written up and posted, Finagle responded to me in the other thread. I have elected to respond here, instead of there, so let me recreate Finagle’s post for everyone.

Finagle quoted a portion of one of the articles I had quoted but did not quote in the OP of this thread. The quote in question was:

Now, after that quote, Finagle took me to task with this:

He then quoted the entire paragraph from the original article, which reads:

He then concludes his post with:

Now, with regards to selective quoting - guilty as charged. But that’s also why I linked the article. Copyright issues prevent my linking the entire article, so I selected quotes that supported my position. However, in this particular case, I didn’t include the quote in question to support my cause, but included it with the offset of “specifically for elucidator”, since luc has often made his “Mount Rushmore” analogy in reference to this very issue. I thought he would find that particular quote of interest.

In a more general sense, the claim that Finagle makes that, “But if you read the article, the impression is more that ‘it’s pretty clear that this stuff is not where it was, so we’re probably going to have to spend a lot of time interviewing people and sifting through documents to figure out what happened to it,’” I summarily reject. I suggest that Finagle and any one else read the introductory paragraph (the first paragraph quoted in the OP of this thread), and draw your own conclusions.

And now, in response to Finagle’s final paragraph addressing the issues in this OP (and responded to by tomndebb in the original thread prior to the creation of this one):

It is clear to everyone that it is in the US’ strategic interest to find WoMD, or at least compelling evidence that they existed in the recent past. In this respect, the US is not a disinterested party.
I’m not sure you want “competing” teams sifting through the evidence, but I’m not sure why, at this point, the US military needs to have teams at all. It seems obvious to me that if evidence of WoMD is found, it is in the US’ interest that the international community finds such evidence as truly credible, and I question whether evidence (particularly scant evidence, which may be the best found at this point) discovered by the US military won’t suffer veracity problems. That risk is signficantly lessened if the discovery is by a third party.

Those risks would seem to outweigh “coordination” risks, wouldn’t they?

In any event, I doubt there has been serious searches until the past few days, and it may take months or years to comb the whole nation over. Patience.


Funny, where I have heard that before…

“It would appear to me that the quickest way to restore the wealth of Iraq would be to quickly accommodate UN inspectors in order to remove the UN sanctions. Why isn’t this being done?”

No, the quickest way to remove sanctions would be for the French and Russians to agree to vote to end them. That would take approximately 2 seconds.

This Just in,

U.S. falsified evidence to justify invasion of Iraq: Blix
Tue, 22 Apr 2003 14:11:45

LONDON - Washington falsified evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to justify invading the country, the United Nation’s chief weapons inspector has suggested.

Hans Blix made the comments in an interview with BBC Radio.

Parts of the interview were released hours before Blix was to address the UN Security Council. He is hoping to convince member states to allow his team of weapons inspectors to return to Iraq.

The inspectors left Iraq shortly before the U.S. military attack started.

Blix said weapons inspectors had “no great difficulty” proving documents that had gotten past U.S. and U.K. intelligence were fake. “Who falsifies this?” asked Blix.

He also accused Washington of undermining the efforts of the weapons inspectors in order to gain support for the war.

U.S. Republican Congressman Peter King flatly dismissed Blix’s allegations and accused him of manipulating evidence.

American troops have found no hard evidence of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq. There have been reports from Iraqi scientists that ingredients for the weapons do exist and have been buried.

John, bandit:

Any thoughts on the major issue of the OP: What reasons are there for the US not to cooperate with the UN inspectors?

Its been roughly about 30 days since the start of the war. 2 thirds of that time was used to prosecute this war which was very effective and sometimes stimulating on TV. Half of the remaining time was used to secure positions and start to regain civil order. When areas were secure, searches were done of suspected sites. Target areas were provided by intelligence sources that were probably obtained before this war. The trail is cold, all we’ve found so far are stuff that werent even really hidden. Saddam had a whole decade to hide these things and you really expect the US to unearth these things in a matter of a few weeks. Is this guy a moron? He may be a despotic, sociopathic, ruthless, evil bastard with a gut but he is not stupid. It would be easier to find most of the 52 most wanted than to stumble upon WoMd.

I havent even heard of any news reports of the military exploring the bunkers underneath the palaces. Whats up with dat? I want pictures of these “impenetrable” holes.

Because that would require doing the right thing in terms of international relations, instead of the “doing whatever the hell we want to” attitude that’s been the hallmark of this Administration?

I mean, really, the Administration’s refusal to allow UN/third-party inspectors makes no logical sense at all – at a time where the United States’ credibility is already shredded, this stance just make a bad thing worse. If we’re gracious enough to give the U.S. the benefit of a doubt (e.g., that they’re not refusing inspectors to make it easier to plant their own evidence), I can only guess that this position is only taken out of emotional, face-saving egotistical reasons.

OK, the first paragraph of that article is

Note the word ** whereabouts **. Note the absence of the word “existence”. I hold with my interpretation. They still think the stuff exists. It isn’t where it used to be.

Why not cooperate:

  1. The Bush administration strongly feels they were duped by the French and Russians leading up to the War. Whether or not you agree with this doesn’t really matter. It’s what Bush et al think. So in this sense, it’s not so much the UN as the French/Russian issue. In effect, that makes by association a UN issue. Bottom line, the US administration does not trust the French or Russians and any UN action would have to include them.

  2. The US is pretty much in charge now. Our reputation is somewhat on the line here. It’s not part of the American character to pin our reputation on the ability and/or integrity of another nation. And it’s not just us. Once anyone is a position of power, it’s unusual for that power to be given up voluntarily.

  3. Blix must’ve taken speaking lessons from Alan Greenspan. Both can talk for hours and never actually say a thing. Getting back to a situation where all we hear is “well on the one hand blah blah blah, but ont he other hand blah blah blah” isn’t very appealing.

  4. We may plan to use certain methods of discovery that another group would not use. And we don’t want them in the way.

  5. We’ve got our hands full trying to set up a new gov’t, protect the Iraqis and our own troops, we don’t want to have to babysit some other group that has it’s own agenda.

At this point I think the US gov’t is focussed on getting the job done. We feel confident we can do it ourselves, and if other countries think badly of us because of it, well we can live with that.

And this still isn’t the question that needs answering. The war was sold to us on the basis that Iraq represented a serious, imminent threat to the security of the United States, and further that Bush knew details that couldn’t be publicized for safety’s sake. That[ is what has to be demonstrated to shore up the war decision’s morality, even under the doctrine of pre-emption.
Finding a couple of encrusted barrels out in the desert somewhere, near a corroded 159-mile rocket, won’t even come close to that, although it would certainly produce an amount of relief and even gloating by those who are morally out on the limb after having placed their trust in Bush’s word. It just won’t matter who finds that stuff, or when, if it still isn’t clear that it represented the mortal threat we were told it is. If it’s clear then (and I think it is already) that Bush didn’t know either at the time he said he did, the moral question is already answered. Claiming it was really for liberation or some other purposes represents evasion of that point. And over a hundred soldiers and some thousands of Iraqis are dead because of it, too.

Which pretty much confirms the worst of how we look on the international stage: we’re effectively taking our toys and not sharing with the other children. While that may be what Bush et al think, it doesn’t make it right, and it’s likely that it will worsen our standing with the international community.

But, if we truly want to show that we can cooperate with other nations, we have to yield in this case. In fact, if we’re going to be honest about it, we’ll eventually have to give power back to the Iraqi government (in whatever form it takes) eventually anyway. Why not get that ball rolling now, and improve our international relations in the process?

Further, I disagree that it’s not “in the American character” to depend on other nations. We have depended on other nations many times in the past (including in the war for our independence), there’s no reason not to do so now.

You’re right that the US’ reputation is at risk here… however, it is not our nation-building reputation that we are risking, it is our reputation of being a nation capable of cooperating on a global scale. If the Bush Administration pushes on with this “go it alone” agenda, then we will lose that reputation fast.

Again, worsening our reputation and confirming the worst fears of the worldwide community, not to mention the Arab world. Not wanting someone “in the way” is one step away from dirty dealings.

So, if our hands are so full, why not share the burden as well as the responsibility? This point doesn’t make sense in any sort of practical way… international cooperation would lighten our load, not make it heavier.

“Getting the job done” to me requires international cooperation. While the US may be confident of its abilities here, the rest of the world is not, and justifiably so. To put it simply, if we’re not cooperating with the UN and with other nations, we’re not “getting the job done.” We’re doing the job poorly.

And if you think we can “live with” flushing international relations down the toilet for the next decade or so, then you’re living in a much more isolated world than the rest of us. The U.S. depends on international cooperation for business and for political efforts. If we’re going to muck about with other countries’ governments, then we had better do so with the blessing and help of the global community.


I should’ve been clearer that this is what I think the Bush administration is thinking, not necesarily what I think should be done.

The question was “Why not use a 3rd party…”. Now you could postulate what Bush would do if he had a different philosophical mindset, but isn’t that like saying “What would Christians believe in if they didn’t believe in God?”

Yeah, if Bush saw the world as Chirac does, he’d do things differntly. Is that what we’re debating?

Finagle, I see your point, and I find it ironic, but feel I should wait for elucidator to come along with the Mount Rushmore analogy. The crux of which is, how can you know it exists, if you don’t know where it exists? You see, I am more than willing to accept that we strongly suspect that it exists, somewhere. Even that opening paragraph soft-pedaled it with “strong clues”. But that wasn’t the bill of goods we were sold. We were told that we have solid intelligence (but couldn’t disclose the source, and still haven’t), that it does exist. And that we knew where it was. Something that the UN inspectors were unable to corroborate.

But I won’t continue this argument here, as it is more appropriate for the other thread.

And John Mace, thanks for actually addressing the OP. Apparently, such was too much to ask of some others.

On your first point, I don’t really buy it. The administration has gone out of its way since the war to suggest that France and Russia are still our allies, and that we won’t let their refusal to participate in the Iraq invasion negatively impact our long term relationship. Frankly, I can’t find any justification not to trust France and Russia, but besides, trusting the UN inspectors has little to nothing to do with trusting France or Russia.

One last thought on this item, I did not limit the OP to the UN, how about another (independent) third party?

On a side note, I just heard an annoucement on MSNBC that France is supporting the US in providing an immediate end to the UN sanctions on Iraq.

On your second point, it seems to be a double edged sword. I’m not suggesting that the US must share the responsibility (or power) for rebuilding Iraq with the UN. Completely independent of that issue, the US could still host the UN inspectors for WoMD searches. The fact that the US’ reputation is at stake is the strongest argument for an independent third party. This isn’t about sharing power.

On point three, I can agree, but only note that Dubya just extended his support for another term for Alan Greenspan.

Perhaps you could elaborate on point four, as I cannot come up with any “methods” we would use that the UN inspectors would not (unless you’re talking torture or something, which I doubt).

On point five, I can only note that Gen. Blount said today that the US role is quickly changing from “liberation” to “peacekeeping”. In that sense, we are already babysitting millions of Iraqis, could a few hundred UN weapons inspectors be that much more trouble?

Let’s see, the UN already has expertise, infrastructure, and experience in this search, which is more than the US military can claim. Calls for patience are downright laughable. While I understand them, I find it just a bit hypocritical, due to the previous criticisms of the UN inspectors.


Do you find the Bush administrations stand on this issue morally and or politically justifiable, in your opinion?

For the record, let’s take a look at what Ari Fleischer had to say at today’s White House briefing on this topic. I’ve excerpted everything related to this issue, and its a pretty dry read. For the gist of it, just read the Q&A to the first and last question (you won’t have missed much).

So, the party line seems to be “the President is looking forward, not backward.” Anyone want to parse the meaning of that phrase for me? Sounds just a little close to “the ends justify the means” to me. Otherwise, it seems the rest of the responses boil down to “trust us”.

(My Bolding)


Responding to your responses about my itemized list. And, by the way, I think #1 is far and away the main issue. The other ones are secondary, maybe even just terciary.

  1. Yeah, we’ll cooperate w/ France and Russia on many issues in the future, but not on Iraq, at least not right now.

As for other third parties, it’s hard to think of any that don’t have some controll by France/Russia and have anywhere near the kind of technology we have. NATO is out, the EU is out. Who else is there (who also have technology to get the job done)?

  1. What can I say other than “We don’t need no stinking ba-tches”. Bush sincerely believes we can find all the evidence we need w/o help.

  2. Greenspan, unlike Blix did get the job done. He’s kept inflation low for a long time and has the confidence of the Biz community.

  3. Not torture, but detentions.

  4. Maybe not much trouble, but see #2 above.

Let me ask you-- how can you ues “Cowboy” in your moniker and not understand the go-it-alone philosophy? :slight_smile:


Morally, yes. I was not in favor of invasion, but not on moral grounds, more on practical grounds. Now that we’re there, it’s really our thing and I’m fully confident the US troops are as competent if not more so than the UN inspectors. The French are our allies on paper only. They’re not our enemies, but they’re pretty much beside the point.

Politically, I’m not so sure. If I were in his place, I’d probably let UN inspector participate, but as adjuncts to US troops. I’d nix Blix, and perhaps let UN inspectors accompany US troops, utilizing any expertise they might have. And if I were I looking for another Swede to run things, you’d be on my short list!