Wednesday, June 21, 2006

WMD's Found In Iraq

"If you gave me a pesticide to throw at these swarms of insects to make them breathe and become exterminated, I would use it."
Lieutenant-General Maher Abd al-Rashid, a senior Iraqi field commander in the Iran-Iraq war, conqueror of the Fao Peninsula (apparently, father-in-law of Qusay Hussein), (quoted in Efraim Karsh, The Iran-Iraq War, 1980-1988, (Osprey Publishing, Ltd., Oxford, UK, 2002), p. 53).
"Gas ! GAS Quick boys ! -- an ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime. . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. . ."
Wilfred Owen, "Dulce et decorum est" (quoted in Martin Gilbert, The First World War: A Complete History, (Henry Holt and Co., New York, 1994), p. 352).
Fox News, Instapundit, Captain's Quarters, the Austin Bay Blog and other sources are reporting the discovery of stocks of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD's), in the form of at least 500 chemical artillery shells -- in Iraq, just as the Administration always contended.
The shells appear to be from pre-1991 stocks. Some of them contain the nerve agent Sarin; others are mustard gas shells. Sarin attacks the central nervous system, and is 500 times more toxic than cyanide. According to the Wikipedia article: "As the victim continues to lose control of bodily functions, he vomits, defecates and urinates. This phase is followed by twitching and jerking. Ultimately, the victim becomes comatose and suffocates in a series of convulsive spasms."
Mustard Gas "if inhaled, it causes bleeding and blistering within the respiratory system. . .leading to pulmonary edema. Blister agent exposure over more than 50% body surface area is usually fatal." Mustard Gas is generally "persistent," meaning that it remains present in the area after use -- if a soldier's gear has been tainted with mustard gas, he may poison others he comes in contact with. It was first used effectively in war on 12 July 1917, by the Germans against the British and Canadians, in the Third Battle of Ypres.
These beastly and barbarous weapons were both used to great miltary effect against mostly unprotected Iranian infantry in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war -- their use possibly saved Basra from Iranian capture in the Iranian "Operation Khaibar" offensive in February-March of 1984, and certainly did during the Iranian "Karbala 5" offensive in February 1987.
Instapundit also has a copy of a summary of recovered Iraqi chemical weapons from DNI Chief Negroponte's office, here. As Colonel Bay's discussion points out, possession of these weapons put Saddam's regime squarely in violation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, in particular Resolution 687.
The presence or absence of WMD's was never a big deal for me, and was not, for me, the reason for the war. The purpose of the war was to encourage other dictators to cooperate with our anti-Al Qaeda drive by making an example of an obnoxious dictator who defied the United States by his own acts, and by supporting persons and causes we found objectionable.
Whether or not Saddam actually had weapons, and we know now that he did -- he certainly had a dormant program to manufacture same -- which he fully intended to gin-up and get back into full operation just as soon as the UN sanctions were lifted.
Of course, the "Bush Lied" crowd will not be convinced: nothing will please them short of enemy occupation of Washington. How long do you suppose it will be before they accuse President Bush and our soldiers of planting these weapons ?

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