where are the WMDs?

We told ourselves and the world that we had to hurl death and destruction on a country the other side of the planet primarily because its alleged posession of weapons of mass destruction was an imminent threat to us. Where are those weapons?

I don't know the answer, but, because of the enormous global stakes involved, it's not an idle game if we choose to speculate, or read the speculations of others.

If and when any weapons of mass destruction are discovered, those who supported the war in Iraq can be expected to use the find to justify the U.S.-led intervention. But if such weapons are located based on solid U.S. intelligence information, it raises other questions. If the U.S. knew where such weapons were, why was the information not given to UN inspectors? If inspectors could have been used to find such weapons, why was war necessary?

If the discovery of weapons of mass destruction happens by chance, it will suggest that the inspectors might have been just as likely as the U.S. military to have found those weapons, given the time they requested to search. Moreover, unless the weapons found are of the most potent kind - VX nerve gas or weaponized anthrax - and in vast amounts, there will be many questions about why they posed the imminent threat alleged by the administration. So finding such weapons does not in itself mean that the U.S. action against Iraq was required or that war was the only way to uncover and eliminate those weapons.

Even worse for the U.S. case against Saddam, however, is that as each day passes, conspiracy theories grow that any chemical or biological weapons found might well be planted by U.S. forces. With anti-American sentiment and suspicion of U.S. information and motives growing, especially in the Middle East and Europe, the international public relations battle to convince other countries that any weapons found are of Saddam's own making will be an uphill battle.

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Published on April 9, 2003 12:27 AM.

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