Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Regime Change: Required

David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey revisit the necessity of regime change in Iraq, in The Reality of Saddam’s Threat on National Review Online.

The reality is that we had to deal with Saddam. He had adopted a strategy of keeping his research and development going while trying to get the sanctions shut down. Here's a sample:
Yet, the existence of this state of affairs in 2003 does not, contrary to the claims of the administration's critics, validate the wisdom of the U.N. sanctions/inspections strategy or demonstrate that the U.S.-preferred regime change strategy was unnecessary and unwise. To begin with, a "virtual" WMD strategy enabled Saddam to wait out the sanctions/inspections regime, which, by the late 1990s, was already beginning to break down — with claims (by France among others) that the innocent Iraqi people were suffering more than the guilty Saddam regime. It should be recalled that the administration's pre-September 11, 2001 efforts to bolster and "smarten" anti-Saddam sanctions were met with strong opposition from Russia, China and France, all of which were arguing that Iraq should be allowed to rejoin the international community as a normal sovereign state. There were no indications that those who have been critical of "regime change" as the most effective means for dealing with the threat posed by Saddam would have had the bureaucratic and political staying power of sustaining for years, and even decades, a policy of de facto international trusteeship, enforced by weapons inspectors, to be imposed over Iraq (as well as on other WMD-aspiring, rogue regimes).
In short, containment was turning into detente. And here's why WMD program related materials are important:
Significantly, this "just-in-time" approach to WMD deployment was no less dangerous, from the U.S. perspective, than possession of a WMD stockpile. At least with respect to chemical and biological agents, the most important assets appear to be the availability of suitable expertise and the necessary industrial base. Both of these Saddam had in plenty. Thus, a rogue state, capable of reconstituting its WMD arsenal at a time of its own choosing, poses as much of a threat as a regime with the WMD forces in being.
The authors go on to point out that the myth of perfect intelligence is extremely dangerous. Read the whole thing.