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Why does it matter?

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Dick Cheney doesn’t think it matters that the WMDs didn’t exist. In some sense, he’s correct. The report today did indicate that Hussein intended to continue weapons programs in the future. If intentions are enough, then the invasion was a good idea.

Note how far ahead we’re moving the goalposts, though. Saddam wanted WMDs from 1991 until 2003. Between 1991 and 2003, he constructed no WMDs. Neither of these facts are in dispute. Moreover, Saddam had substantial control over some aspects of the oil for food program, and the weapons inspections had ceased in 1998. The conclusion I’m forced to draw here is that while Saddam may have wanted WMDs, he didn’t want them very badly. Even without inspectors, he didn’t restart the program. Even with a hamstrung oil for food plan, he didn’t restart the program. Even without the threat of invasion, he didn’t restart the program. Hussein, a risk-acceptant leader, was unwilling to take this risk. Makes you wonder under what circumstances he actually would have restarted, and makes me wonder if those circumstances ever would have actually taken place.

In March 2003, NO ONE was arguing for and end to containment of Saddam Hussein. The question on the table was whether containment was sufficient, or if invasion was necessary. That question has now been answered definitively. For 12 years, containment worked. It worked even without inspectors. There is no reason to believe it suddenly would have stopped working. Thus, what we now know of Saddam’s intent cannot, in and of itself, justify war. War was not necessary to accomplish the aim we desired, at least insofar as WMDs were the issue of concern.

Dick and George are trying to make this go away with smoke and mirrors. They’re depending on confusion and the intellectual dishonesty of the pundit class. But, the argument on these terms doesn’t even come close to making sense.

The uncertainty argument makes more sense than the intentions argument. To the extent that we believed it possible that Hussein could conceal weapons, disarming him was a reasonable goal. The report today, however, does nothing to bolster that case.

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