Buchanan At The Bat: 3 strikes on Iraq, and Pat’s out
By: Daniel Clark
If this is the tenth anniversary of the invasion if Iraq, that must be why tiresome defeatists like Pat Buchanan have been filling the editorial pages with completely unjustified I-told-you-sos.
For the most part, Buchanan’s analysis reads like a transcript from one of the panel discussions during his stint at MSNBC, complete with his sarcastic exclamation, “Mission accomplished!” The thrust of his argument is a flawlessly executed triple-balderdash, which he has perfected through repetition over the years.
“Of the three goals of the war, none was achieved,” he gloats. Okay, so let’s take these one at a time, and find out if that’s true.
“No weapon of mass destruction was found”
Notice how the rhetoric has evolved as the anti-war narrative has gone unchallenged. Back when small numbers of WMD were being found on a regular basis, the defeatist position was that no “stockpiles” of WMD had been found, which was true. Saddam Hussein chose to go into hiding rather than stand and fight, therefore he did not keep large stockpiles of WMD at arm’s length.
With the complicity of the liberal media, the anti-Bushies were allowed to paraphrase this as “no weapons of mass destruction,” which is an utter lie. By 2006, no fewer than 500 sarin and mustard gas munitions had been found in Iraq. Also found were empty binary warheads specifically designed to deliver sarin gas, and missiles equipped to deliver those warheads.
Our soldiers made multiple discoveries of deadly chemicals hidden in the desert, in camouflaged ammo dumps. Even the UN revealed that Saddam had kept equipment for producing chemical and biological weapons at dozens of missile sites, which he swiftly dismantled and moved before the invasion. In addition, Saddam left a WMD-related paper trail of internal documents, including purchase records and progress reports, which we are now to believe he fabricated in order to fool people within his government, to whom he wasn’t accountable anyway.
Even if no chemical weapons had been found, their existence could have been deduced from the mountains of circumstantial evidence. These include satellite photos of caravans streaming toward the Syrian border before the invasion, repeated attempts to bribe the weapons inspectors, the very fact that Saddam had ejected the inspectors after a VX discovery five years earlier, and incriminating statements made on Saddam’s secret recordings. To dismiss all this is to act as the Butcher of Baghdad’s defense attorney, not an objective seeker of truth.
“While Saddam and his sons paid for their sins, they had nothing at all to do with 9/11. Nothing. That had all been mendacious propaganda.”
President Bush has never claimed that Saddam Hussein was directly involved in the 9/11 attacks, which is the phony argument that Buchanan pretends to rebut. To state that Saddam “had nothing at all to do with 9/11,” however, goes quite a bit further than that.
We have it right from Saddam’s own mouth, among other sources, that his Iraqi Intelligence Service had repeatedly met with al-Qaeda, although he denied that this established an alliance between them. A 2008 Pentagon report disagreed with him on that point. It concluded, “Captured documents reveal that the regime was willing to co-opt or support organizations it knew to be part of al-Qaeda, as long as that organization’s near-term goals supported Saddam’s long-term vision.”
How willing? For starters, Saddam is known to have funded two precursors of al-Qaeda – Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the organization created by Ayman al-Zawahiri that would become the nucleus of al-Qaeda, and the Afghani Islamic Party, which controlled that part of Afghanistan where bin Laden established his terrorist training camp. Saddam also funded a group called Army of Muhammad, which his own IIS recognized as an “offshoot of bin Laden,” as well as al-Qaeda’s Filipino affiliate, Abu Sayyaf.
Osama bin Laden was considered to be particularly dangerous because of his wealth, but his inheritance was a pittance compared to the steady stream of revenue that Saddam Hussein took in as dictator of an oil-rich nation. Osama’s net worth was estimated at $50 million. Saddam is believed to have spent $35 million in bribes to Palestinian families who sacrificed their children as suicide bombers. We can only guess how much total funding he gave to al-Qaeda-related groups, but whatever the amount, it is certainly enough to implicate him in their atrocities. One cannot knowingly collaborate with terrorist organizations, and yet have “nothing at all to do with” their terrorist acts.
“Where there had been no al-Qaida in Iraq while Saddam ruled, al-Qaida is crawling all over Iraq now.”
The naysayers like to believe that when bin Laden publicly endorsed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi from afar, it was a superficial contrivance, and that the independent Zarqawi was al-Qaeda in name only. In reality, the connection between the two was far more concrete. In 2006, The Atlantic ran a profile of Zarqawi that depicted him as a two-bit thug who had been blown up into a monster by overzealous American war propaganda. However, it also described his face-to-face meeting with Osama bin Laden in December of 1999.
The two men reportedly took an instant disliking to each other, in no small part because of Zarqawi’s refusal to pledge allegiance to bin Laden. Nevertheless, the al-Qaeda leader gave Zarqawi the seed money he needed to start a terrorist training camp near the Afghan-Iranian border, for the reason that he agreed with Zarqawi’s aim of overthrowing the government of Jordan.
After fighting alongside the Taliban against the United States in Afghanistan, Zarqawi and his followers fled to Northern Iraq, where they joined the Kurdish terrorist group Ansar al-Islam, which not surprisingly was partially armed and funded by Saddam Hussein. Well before the U.S. invasion, a subsidiary of al-Qaeda had relocated to Iraq, with the intention of toppling one of the most benign governments in the Arab world.
In addition, Saddam had operated no fewer than three training camps, at which thousands of foreign jihadists received instruction from his Fedayeen – paramilitary irregulars who specialized in guerrilla warfare. After Saddam’s ouster, the foreign fighters who became known as al-Qaeda in Iraq helped the Fedayeen wage what will forever be mislabeled “the insurgency.” Is AQI the al-Qaeda that Buchanan says is “crawling all over Iraq now,” and if so, are none of them the same people who had trained in Saddam’s camps beforehand?
Never for a single day did Saddam honor the terms of the treaty that ended the 1991 Gulf War. This gave America a standing justification to remove him at any time since. For President Bush to decline that opportunity, during a war on terror that was not of our choosing, would have been a dereliction of his duty to the American people.
None of the evidence cited here has been fished from the murky fever swamps of the twittersphere. All of it is easily available from government reports and mainstream media sources, although Buchanan would surely find excuses to dismiss it all the same. Mind you, if he could ever scrape up one billionth as much support for his contention that a dastardly cabal of neoconservatives had seized control of the Bush White House on behalf of their Israeli overlords, he would blather about it incessantly.
Oh, wait a minute. He does that anyway.
Daniel Clark is a writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the author and editor of a web publication called The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press, where he also publishes a seasonal sports digest as The College Football Czar.