28 January 2008

News That Isn't News

Gotta love the Crappy News Network for reporting on this "story," something that I addressed in my thesis (back in 2006!!!) and which has been discussed at length in various academic articles including a major essay in Foreign Affairs in 2006. It goes like this:

Saddam Hussein let the world think he had weapons of mass destruction to intimidate Iran and prevent the country from attacking Iraq, according to an FBI agent who interviewed the dictator after his 2003 capture.

According to a CBS report, Hussein claimed he didn't anticipate that the United States would invade Iraq over WMD, agent George Piro said on "60 Minutes," scheduled for Sunday broadcast.

"For him, it was critical that he was seen as still the strong, defiant Saddam. He thought that (faking having the weapons) would prevent the Iranians from reinvading Iraq," said Piro.

During the nearly seven months Piro talked to Hussein, the agent hinted to the Iraqi that he answered directly to President Bush, CBS said in a posting on its Web site.

"He told me he initially miscalculated ... President Bush's intentions. He thought the United States would retaliate with the same type of attack as we did in 1998 ... a four-day aerial attack," Piro said. "He survived that one and he was willing to accept that type of attack."

"He didn't believe the U.S. would invade?" Correspondent Scott Pelley asked.

"No, not initially," Piro answered.

Once it was clear that an invasion was imminent, Hussein asked his generals to hold off the allied forces for two weeks, Piro said. "And at that point, it would go into what he called the secret war," the agent said, referring to the insurgency.

But Piro said he was not sure that the insurgency was indeed part of Hussein's plan. "Well, he would like to take credit for the insurgency," he said.

Hussein had the ability to restart the weapons program and professed to wanting to do that, Piro said.

"He wanted to pursue all of WMD ... to reconstitute his entire WMD program."

So he was playing a game of chicken, relying on a belief that Bush was as half-determined as Clinton to deal with the Saddam problem, and had intent to reconstitute his WMD programs. I enjoy reading articles like this because they re-affirm things which I argued almost two years ago and put a measure of justification to the decision to remove Saddam from power in Iraq. Unfortunately for Saddam, his posture put him in a variation of the Prisoner's Dilemma, in which it was always in his best interest to maintain the appearance of maintaining WMD and, according to the democracy promotion aspects of the Bush Doctrine, it was always in America's best interest to remove Saddam. The two combined to be his downfall.

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