I listened to and watched Colin Powell attempting to make a case for war with Iraq this morning and came away unpersuaded. I have a lot of respect for Powell and his judgment, but if you know anything about him, you know he’s the good soldier. Normally, that’s a great quality, but here it’s a huge detriment. It could be that he believes fully in the arguments he presented to the UN this morning. Or it could be, as rumors have it, that he’s forcefully opposed to the war but has saluted and said “yes sir” to Bush’s determination that war’s what’s needed. Since I don’t trust Bush’s judgment whatsoever, not being able to tell what Powell really believes is a gigantic liability. There’s simply not very many people in this administration who are trustworthy.
More specifically concerning the issues Powell raised, virtually none of them were new and in no instance was a compelling point made that the international community must act immediately. (Unlike, perhaps, the situation brewing in North Korea.) Saddam has biological weapons. We knew this. Even more, we know that he’s used them to kill thousands. He did most of this prior to the Gulf War of 1991 when he was considered, ahem, our regional ally. He’s undeniably not Mr. Sunshine. But biological agents aren’t difficult to make. You can go down to a 7-11 and, assuming you have the chemistry knowledge, cook up a Slurpee cocktail that’ll kill half of Phoenix. Now Saddam’s got a more involved operation than this, no doubt, but none of this is either news or difficult to do.
The charges that Saddam’s got a nuke program are far fetched. Even if the metal tubes are what Powell said they are—and experts disagree—there’s the little problem of enriched uranium. That’s gotta come from somewhere, otherwise your nuclear bombs are really just nuclear wanna-be bombs. There is no evidence—none whatsoever—that Iraq has enriched uranium (let alone weapons grade enriched uranium). Unlike North Korea, Iraq’s nuclear weapons capability not only isn’t in existence, it’s barely a blip on the radar.
Finally, and most damning to Powell’s case since it calls into question the veracity of everything else, the proposed linkage between Iraq and the Al-Qaida network is ludicrious. One Jordanian-born Al-Qaida guy who happened to receive medical treatment in Baghdad isn’t proof, it’s happenstance. Assuming they have anything to do with Al-Qaida at all, Iraq has a lot less to do with them than, say, Pakistan, and that country is currently considered a friend in the war on terror.
The one thought that kept bouncing in my head as Powell showed off our nifty satellite images of Iraq moving or dismantling weapons sites prior to UN inspectors’ arrival was this: If we had these images, why didn’t we give them to the UN while these violations were occurring so that the inspectors could go and intercept or discover the weaponry? The answer, of course, is that we didn’t want the weapons to be discovered by the inspectors. Bush and his cronies want a war instead.