Sunday, September 07, 2003

A while back I had guessed that the "unaccounted for WMDs" may be simple bookkeeping errors. It would appear that ex-weapons inspectors agree.

Ex-inspectors now say, five months after the U.S. invasion, that the notorious "unaccountables" may have been no more than paperwork glitches left behind when Iraq destroyed banned chemical and biological weapons years ago.

Some may represent miscounts, they say, and some may stem from Iraqi underlings' efforts to satisfy the boss by exaggerating reports on arms output in the 1980s.

"Under that sort of regime, you don't admit you got it wrong," said Ron Manley of Britain, a former chief UN adviser on chemical weapons.

His encounters with Iraqi scientists in the 1990s convinced him that at times, when told to produce "X amount" of a weapons agent, "they wrote down what their superiors wanted to hear instead of the reality," said Mr. Manley, who noted that producing VX nerve agent, for example, is a difficult process.
This is hardly a surprise to anybody that knows anything about dictatorial or totalitarian regimes, especially in the third world. Right wingers are constantly saying that this is proof that capitalist democracies are superior, so it's somewhat of a surprise that this sort of simple and consistent explanation has been nowhere to be found.

I'll leave with Blix:

Chief UN inspector Hans Blix, as he left his post this summer, became more open in discussing discrepancies.

After the mid-1990s, "hardly ever did (inspectors) find hidden weapons," Mr. Blix reminded one audience.

"What they found was bad accounting.

"It could be true they (Iraq) did destroy unilaterally in 1991 what they hid."
... and with an example of Iraqi "non-compliance":

The Iraqis had begun scientific soil sampling, for example, to try to confirm the amount of VX dumped long ago at a neutralization site, and had filed an initial report March 17.

Three days later, however, the U.S. invasion intervened.
. Incredible as it may seem to those who buy into the cartoonish caricature of Saddam that survives to this day, he (or his underlings) may have well decided that they were better off without. They probably figured that not actually being a threat to anybody would be a pretty good way to stave off foreign conquest.


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