Debra J. Saunders

It turns out that the anti-war crowd was right that national leaders' decisions on what to do about Iraq were based on oil and greed -- they were just wrong about which countries' leaders. According to the new Iraq Survey Group study by intelligence analyst Charles A. Duelfer, Saddam Hussein systematically bribed or greased the palms of officials and businessmen from countries that are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- France, Russia and China -- with the goal of undermining the U.N. sanctions. Not only did that strategy work, but Hussein's corruption of the Oil for Food program also bankrolled his lethal projects.
Oil for Food was supposed to feed the hungry in Iraq, but it turned into a bonanza that delivered $350 million to Hussein's Military Industrial Commission in 2001. As Hussein said in 2000, "We have said with certainty that the (U.N.) embargo will not be lifted by a Security Council resolution but will corrode by itself." Duelfer told the Senate Armed Services Committee that "sanctions had steadily weakened to the point where Iraq, in 2000-2001, was confidently designing missiles around components that could only be obtained outside sanctions."

 The bottom line: Those who argued that President Bush and the world should "let the sanctions work" had no idea that the sanctions were funding the planned return of weapons of mass destruction with missiles that could propel them beyond Iraq.

 Worse, while Duelfer expects to find no militarily significant caches of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that doesn't mean they all were destroyed.

 As his report noted, "We cannot definitively say whether or not WMD materials were transferred out of Iraq before the war. Neither can we definitively answer some questions about possibly retained stocks."

 The lesson Hussein learned from the Persian Gulf War was that he should have had more WMD, and more powerful WMD, not that he should give them up. Hussein believed that Baghdad's biological and chemical weapons "deterred Coalition Forces from pressing their attack beyond the goal of freeing Kuwait."

 Duelfer believed that Iraq would have developed more lethal weapons: nukes. As he testified, many senior Iraqis believed "they had blundered in invading Kuwait before completing their nuclear weapons program."

Debra J. Saunders

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