Thursday, October 07, 2004

Victim of own success 

Hasn't this turned out to be one of the major strategic and political miscalculations of the century:
"The [Iraqi Survey Group] report... states that Saddam kept up the pretence that Iraq still had WMD capability to frighten Iran, rather than the US or Britain. 'He explained that he purposefully gave an ambiguous impression about possession as a deterrent to Iran,' the authors wrote."
The problem for Saddam was that he did such a good job at "the pretence" that arguably he not only managed to frighten or deter Iran but he also in the end managed to provoke the United States into action. How easy it is to become a victim of one's own success. Ironically, the deception program seems in hindsight to have been the most effective branch of Saddam's military-security apparatus.

There are some other interesting quotes:
"The report said that [Saddam] thought WMD saved the regime many times. He believed that during the Iran-Iraq war chemical weapons had halted Iranian ground offensives and that ballistic mis sile attacks on Tehran had broken its political will. Similarly, during Desert Storm Saddam believed WMD had deterred coalition forces from pressing their attack beyond the goal of freeing Kuwait.

"When asked, during a custodial interview, whether he would have reinstituted a WMD programme after sanctions were lifted, his answer implied that Iraq would have done what was necessary."
And as the report also concluded:
"Saddam wanted to recreate Iraq's WMD capability -- which was essentially destroyed in 1991 -- after sanctions were removed and Iraq's economy stabilized, but probably with a different mix of capabilities to that which previously existed."
Which pretty much agrees with Charles Krauthammer's assessment of why Iraq was still - and increasingly - a danger.


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