LIBERALS AND IRAQ
Lately there has been a dual theme running hot and heavy through the media and liberal blogs. It is:
a) The Bush administration " lied " about Iraqi WMD.
b) The occupation of Iraq has been an utter disaster.
Point A relies on studiously ignoring the history of Iraq since 1990, especially the policies of the Clinton administration and the contents of UNSCOM reports and the sacrifices made by Saddam ( $ 180 billion dollars) in order not to comply with inspections. Basically, critics repeatedly do not address these points or will say that Saddam had weapons in 1998 but not 2003, skipping over the origin of this amazing insight into Iraqi governmental operations - like when and where exactly these items were destroyed or the larger question of why Saddam would kick out the inspectors and then, secretly, dismantle his weapons. They rely on the mysterious absence of large WMD stockpiles to argue they did not exist - though logically you could make the exact same argument about Saddam with an equal amount of validity.
Where are the WMD's ? My guess is that what remains are deeply and securely hidden inside Iraq, in locations known only to Saddam, Qusay and a handful of their key aides who disappeared with them. As like as not, you would find Saddam and several missing top officials in the same locations with the most critical elements of Saddam's programs - computer disks, plans, diagrams related to nuclear bomb design, samples of smallpox and other bioweapons. I'm highly skeptical of any significant quantities of WMD's being shipped to Syria. For one thing, Damascus would not want satellite photos of trucks unloading degrading toxins or have its agents being interdicted at the border. Syria has chemical weapons of their own and would only value Iraq's critical nuclear expertise. Secondly, I have trouble seeing a man like Saddam Hussein giving up the crown jewels of his WMD program for free if he still harbors any hope of returning to power someday or buying himself a secure and secret exile.
On point B, the critics have a better case. It was obvious that an official outside the chain of command of the American military would have little or no power to accomplish anything significant in Iraq. The brigade commanders ignored some of the chaos because reconstruction was Garner's responsibility and Garner had no young men with guns to accomplish any of his orders. Bremer, who has " juice" due to close ties to Rumsfeld and Powell will get more cooperation but Iraq simply needs a military occupational government with General Tommy Franks or his most senior field commander as governor. The critics however, vastly exaggerate the scope of the problem. Iraq is in far, far better shape than Western Europe was in the first few years ( yes, that's right YEARS ) after WWII. It's a testament to the success of American policy that the cities of rubble, looting, widespread reprisals, hunger and mortality rates that devastated Germany and France 1945-48 are largely forgotten but the hyperbolic liberals need to check out a few old newsreels on the History channel before they start proclaiming the occupation a failure. Iraq has suffered few of these problems and none on a similar scale to what we experienced after past conflicts.