Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Wishful Thinking

The final WMD report is out. Guess what.

Mr. Duelfer concluded that Mr. Hussein had made fundamental decisions, beginning in 1991, to get rid of Iraq’s illicit weapons and accept the destruction of its weapons-producing facilities as part of an effort to end United Nations sanctions. But Mr. Duelfer argued that Mr. Hussein was also exploiting avenues opened by the sanctions, including the oil-for-food program, to lay the groundwork for a long-term plan to resume weapons production if sanctions were lifted.

Mr. Hussein “wanted to end sanctions while preserving the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction when sanctions were lifted,” the report said. But the conclusion that Mr. Hussein had intended to restart his programs, the report acknowledged, was based more on inference than solid evidence. “The regime had no formal written strategy or plan for the revival of W.M.D. after sanctions,” it said, using the common abbreviation for weapons of mass destruction.

Whaddaya bet the White House wishes this report had been held up at the printers for, oh, say, another four weeks? Now their spin is that while Saddam Hussein had dismantled his weapons and programs because of the international sanctions (ahem), he was planning to re-start them as soon as no one was looking; “Well, he may not have had them, but he really wanted them.” Well, the world is full of wishes. I wish I had $100,000 and 20-inch biceps.

The White House has been wishing for a lot recently: that John Kerry would concede the race, that George W. Bush could put a noun against a verb without having to wait for a prepositional phrase to show up, and that they had been right about everything they said about why we were taken into war. Wishing doesn’t make it so. Good thing, too.