For the sake of their tiresome argument, let's stipulate that we will find no weapons of mass destruction – or, to be accurate, no more weapons of mass destruction. Perhaps Hussein was using the three trucks capable of assembling poison gases to sell ice cream under some heretofore undisclosed U.N. "Oil For Popsicles" program.
Should we apologize and return the country to Saddam Hussein and his winsome sons? Should we have him on "Designer's Challenge" to put his palaces back in all their '80s Vegas splendor? Or maybe Uday and Qusay could spruce up each other's rape rooms on a very special episode of "Trading Spaces"? What is liberals' point?
No one cares.
In fact, the question was never whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. We know he had weapons of mass destruction. He used weapons of mass destruction against the Kurds, against the Iranians and against his own people.
The United Nations weapons inspectors repeatedly found Saddam's weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War, right up until Saddam threw them out in 1998. Justifying his impeachment-day bombing, Clinton cited the Iraqi regime's "nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs." (Indeed, this constitutes the only evidence that Saddam didn't have weapons of mass destruction: Bill Clinton said he did.)
Liberals are now pretending that their position all along was that Saddam had secretly disarmed in the last few years without telling anyone. This would finally explain the devilish question of why Saddam thwarted inspectors every inch of the way for 12 years, issued phony reports to the U.N., and wouldn't allow flyovers or unannounced inspections: It was because he had nothing to hide!
But that wasn't liberals' position.
Liberals also have to pretend that the only justification for war given by the Bush administration was that Iraq was knee-deep in nukes, anthrax, biological weapons and chemical weapons – so much so, that even Hans Blix couldn't help but notice them.
But that wasn't the Bush administration's position.
Rather, it was that there were lots of reasons to get rid of Saddam Hussein and none to keep him. When President Bush gave the Hussein regime 48 hours' notice to quit Iraq, he said: "(A)ll the decades of deceit and cruelty have now reached an end." He said there would be "no more wars of aggression against your neighbors, no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents, no more torture chambers and rape rooms. The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near."
Liberals kept saying that's too many reasons. The New York Times' leading hysteric, Frank Rich, complained: "We know Saddam Hussein is a thug and we want him gone. But the administration has never stuck to a single story in arguing the case for urgent pre-emptive action now." Since liberals never print retractions, they can say anything. What they said in the past is never admissible.
Contrary to their current self-advertisements, it was liberals who were citing Saddam's weapons of mass destruction – and with gusto – in order to argue against war with Iraq. They said America would suffer retaliatory strikes, there would be mass casualties, Israel would be nuked, our troops would be hit with Saddam's chemical weapons, it would be a Vietnam quagmire.
They said "all" we needed to do was disarm him. This would have required a military occupation of Iraq and a systematic inspection of the 1,000 or so known Iraqi weapons sites without interference from the Hussein regime. In other words, pretty much what we're doing right now.
Remember? That's why liberals were so smitten with the idea of relying on U.N. weapons inspectors. As their title indicates, "weapons inspectors" inspect weapons. They don't stop torture, abolish rape rooms, feed the people, topple Saddam's statues or impose democracy.
In January this year, The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof cited the sort of dismal CIA report that always turns up in the hands of New York Times reporters, warning that Saddam might order attacks with weapons of mass destruction as "his last chance to exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him." He said he opposed invading Iraq as a pure matter of the "costs and benefits" of an invasion, concluding we should not invade because there was "clearly a significant risk" that it would make America less safe.
In his native tongue, weaselese, Kristof claimed he would be gung-ho for war if only he were convinced we could "oust Saddam with minimal casualties and quickly establish a democratic Iraq." We've done that, and now he's blaming the Bush administration for his own idiotic predictions of disaster. Somehow, that's Bush's fault, too. Kristof says Bush manipulated evidence of weapons of mass destruction – an act of duplicity he calls "just as alarming" as a dictator who has weapons of mass destruction.
If Americans were lied to, they were lied to by liberals who warned we would be annihilated if we attacked Iraq. The left's leading intellectual light, Janeane Garofalo, was featured in an anti-war commercial before the war, saying: "If we invade Iraq, there's a United Nations estimate that says, 'There will be up to a half a million people killed or wounded.'" Now they're testy because they fear Saddam may never have had even a sporting chance to unleash dastardly weapons against Americans.