George Will

Based on his experience in the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam assumed there would be a ground offensive only after prolonged bombing. U.S. forces would conquer the desert, then stop. He could manufacture civilian casualties--perhaps by blowing up some of his own hospitals--to inflame world opinion, and count on his European friends to force a halt in the war, based on his promise to open Iraq to inspections, having destroyed his WMDs on the eve of war.

Or shortly after the war began. Saddam, suggests Woolsey, was stunned when Gen. Tommy Franks began the air and ground offenses simultaneously and then ``pulled a Patton,'' saying, in effect, never mind my flanks, I'll move so fast they can't find my flanks. Saddam, Woolsey suggests, may have moved fast to destroy the material that was the justification for a war he intended to survive, and may have survived.

Such destruction need not have been a huge task. In Britain, where political discourse is far fiercer than in America, Tony Blair is being roasted about the missing WMDs by, among many others, Robin Cook, formerly his foreign secretary. Cook says: ``Such weapons require substantial industrial plant and a large work force. It is inconceivable that both could have been kept concealed for the two months we have been in occupation of Iraq.''

Rubbish, says Woolsey: Chemical or biological weapons could have been manufactured with minor modifications of a fertilizer plant, or in a plant as small as a microbrewery attached to a restaurant. The 8,500 liters of anthrax that Saddam once admitted to having would weigh about 8.5 tons and would fill about half of a tractor-trailer truck. The 25,000 liters that Colin Powell cited in his U.N. speech could be concealed in two trucks--or in much less space if the anthrax were powdered.

For the president, the missing WMDs are not a political problem. Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster, says Americans are happily focused on Iraqis liberated rather than WMDs not found, so we ``feel good about ourselves.''

But unless America's foreign policy is New Age therapy to make the public feel mellow, feeling good about the consequences of an action does not obviate the need to assess the original rationale for the action. Until WMDs are found, or their absence accounted for, there is urgent explaining to be done.


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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