This round of weapons inspections in Iraq, from the United States' perspective at least, was never about looking for a smoking gun but giving Saddam Hussein one last chance to come clean.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld reiterated that point on "Fox News Sunday," saying that if we had sent inspectors into Iraq for the purpose of discovering and finding things, "they would have been named finders or discoverers instead of inspectors." The test, said Rumsfeld, is not whether weapons are found, but whether Saddam is cooperating. "That is what ought to be measured. That's what the U.N. asked for." Indeed, it would be a fool's errand to look for a smoking gun in a country so vast, says David Kay, former chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq.
We had already found plenty of smoking guns by 1998 when Saddam ejected the inspectors. If we know he had chemical and biological weapons and an ambitious nuclear weapons program then, why should we assume he has since eliminated them?
President Bush has repeatedly said that the burden of proof is on Saddam Hussein to demonstrate that he has rid himself of these weapons. It is not up to the world to prove he still has them.
Isn't that a reasonable position for the president to take? We're not asking Saddam to prove a negative but to show us how he destroyed his weapons. That was supposed to be the purpose of Iraq's Dec. 8 declaration, which, predictably, was entirely fraudulent.
Besides, what incentive does this tyrannical sociopath have to disarm? Power is his very reason for existence. He's about as likely to disarm voluntarily as he is to drain his own body dry of blood. Not only is power his lifeblood; it is the only thing he understands, the only language he speaks. Which is why it took a deadly serious threat of invasion before he would readmit the inspectors.
He has certainly never had to pay a heavy price for refusing to disarm and for failing otherwise to comply with the Gulf War treaties, including routinely shooting at our planes in the no-fly zones.
Ask yourself: Is this woefully guilty man entitled to the presumption of innocence? What evidence is there in history of megalomaniacal dictators rehabilitating themselves? Is it even a remote possibility that Saddam has eliminated these weapons on his own?
We're talking about a man who launched a brutal war against his neighbor Iran, who invaded the tiny country of Kuwait, who routinely kills his own generals and who gassed thousands of his own people, and some want to give him the benefit of the doubt? Would we have trusted Hitler to dismantle his war machine and curb his imperial appetite? Oh, sorry, I forgot that some did.
But many of these people urging us to trust Saddam are the same ones who insist we cannot trust our own leaders. Radicals, from British spy novelist John Le Carre and the Hollywood Left, to Ramsey Clark and this growing cabal of lunatic fringe protesters, maintain this is a war for oil. British journalist Robert Fisk says this war was "concocted" five years ago by oil men such as Dick Cheney.
Yes, this bizarre group of people is telling us we should place our trust in a proven murderer and impute criminal intent to George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell, all of whom, by the way, the American people believe in overwhelming numbers to be trustworthy.
It is so easy for the America-bashers to slander this nation. But I ask you to consider when this country -- the world's only superpower, no less -- has used its superior forces to steal other nations' resources.
Are we talking about the nation that spent $13 billion ($73 billion in 1990 dollars) through the Marshall Plan following World War II to help rebuild war-torn Europe, including our vanquished enemies? Are we talking about the nation that militarily skunked Saddam Hussein and let him and his oil off the hook in 1991? Are we talking about the nation that sent care packages to Afghanistan while stripping its rogue Taliban regime from power? Are we talking about the nation that always pays its own way and generously assists other peoples throughout the world?
While the useful idiots will continue to be idiotic, President Bush will soon lead a coalition of the willing into Iraq to disarm Saddam and dismantle his regime. He has left us no other choice.