Thursday, January 29, 2004

 WMDs of the gaps 

In a similar manner to how some assert proof for the existence of God by claiming that what we don't know in science by definition suggests His existence, we're now seeing similar illogic propounded for claiming that WMDs in Iraq could well have existed in spite of the fact that nobody actually found any. I recently came across this blog entry at Wonkette which talks about David Kay's recent testimony:

David Kay testified that there may always be "unresolvable ambiguity" about WMDs in Iraq "because of the severe looting that occurred in Iraq immediately after the U.S.-led invasion and the U.S. military's failure to control it." He suspects that "Iraqis probably took advantage of that period of chaos to get rid of any evidence of weapons programs."

Where to begin? To me there are two points to be made. First, there's the ironical notion that in spite of the fact that the full weight of the US military was bearing down on their whole command and control structure, that same Iraqi political and military apparatus was still organized enough to destroy all the evidence not only of all the WMD stockpiles themselves, but the voluminous paper trail that would certainly have accompanied it. Such a hypothesis requires critics to prove a negative, which of course is impossible - where is Occam's Razor when you really need it? Granted, Kay doesn't actually appear to subscribe to this point of view, but you can bet that the Bush dead-enders who support the administration unapologetically and in spite of the contrary evidence will pick up on this idea and promote it as a plausible explanation. I guess I just fear that the mainstream media, after three years of being browbeaten into thoughtless submission, is now gullible enough to buy it.

The second point has to do with the urgency (or the lack thereof) that the US military seemed to take in securing the country from the kind of looting that Kay describes. Don't you think that if this administration and the Pentagon leaders actually believed there was a genuine threat from large WMD stockpiles, and that the Baathists were desperately trying to hide as much evidence of it as they could, that there would have been a bigger and more coherent effort to secure those suspected facilities as soon as possible after the invasion? It was apparent to me even early on that this administration wasn't really acting like they believed there was any urgency to that which case the administration was either lying or grossly incompetent in its Iraq invasion planning.

OK, so that's not an altogether new thesis....but the Kay quote does make that increasingly evident, at least to me. Now if only the media did their jobs....

UPDATE: Actually, a third point comes to mind, which is something of a corrollary to my second point. Kay makes reference to widespread looting and the "U.S. military's failure to control it". That's something you didn't hear much about from the Bush administration or its propaganda arm, Fox News, while it was happening. Oh no, that wasn't widespread looting, it was just the sporadic actions of a few "dead-enders" and a few unruly types, but nothing that was unexpected or requiring immediate attention. To say otherwise would have been an admission on the part of the administration that they hadn't adequately made post-war plans for Iraq, or that their plans were insufficient for the task at hand. And we all know how this administration doesn't take blame or admit fault for anything - gotta save face, you know.

Thus, Kay's statement effectively puts Bush apologists in a logical vice: if the looting was so bad that it led to the destruction of all the meaningful WMD evidence, then the administration is guilty of downplaying the severity of the looting as it was happening. That's the unpleasant alternative to proposing the aforementioned idea of those wily Baathists who couldn't organize an effective resistance to the US invasion, but still could organize the tiimely and methodical destruction of all the damning evidence of their noncompliance with UN resolutions.

Again, this really just amplifies my second point, but it especially highlights how this administration seems to consider truth and honesty secondary to whatever serves their immediate political interests.

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