Deja Vu on WMDs
International weapons inspectors have arrived in Douma, Syria. Their mission is to gather evidence, but the Republican Administration in Washington thinks the mission in Syria is no longer relevant, that the country's dictator has destroyed the evidence, and the weapons inspectors will be fooled.
Yet, France and the US appeared to question the purpose of such a mission, warning that any incriminating evidence had likely been removed by now.
"It is highly likely that evidence and essential elements disappear from the site, which is completely controlled by the Russian and Syrian armies," the French foreign ministry said.
Ken Ward, US ambassador to the OPCW, claimed on Monday that the Russians had already visited the site and "may have tampered with it".
Not only will the evidence of the WMD attack be destroyed, but witnesses have been silenced. No one will testify about this silencing because they insisted on anonymity.
Wait a sec. Does this sound familiar to anyone else?
I could swear that I've seen this movie before.
If you change Iraq to Syria and squint your eyes, it's almost as if we are watching a sequel.
Based on more than a hundred visits to suspect sites and private interviews with a number of individual scientists known to have been involved with WMD programs in the past, ElBaradei stated that the IAEA had “to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons programme in Iraq” and predicted that the agency should be able to provide that Security Council with an objective and thorough assessment of Iraq’s nuclear related capabilities “in the near future.”
...The Bush administration’s response to the inspectors’ reports was swift and negative, because their conclusions contradicted the allegations previously made by the U.S. government – for example, with regard to the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraqi WMD. The next day, President George W. Bush delivered a radio address to the American people, arguing that the inspection teams did not need any more time, because Saddam was “still refusing to disarm.”
Given Saddam Hussein’s “long history of reckless aggression and terrible crimes,” the United States needed to be willing to use military force rather than waiting “to see what [he] would do with weapons of mass destruction.”
People have forgotten many of the accusations against Iraq, such as that Iraq was sending weapons scientists to Syria to prevent them from being interviewed.
Then there is another familiar accusation.
He further disputed the Bush administration's allegations that his inspection agency might have been penetrated by Iraqi agents, and that sensitive information might have been leaked to Baghdad, compromising the inspections.
Did Russian agents penetrate the inspectors in Syria? Or are they the very same Iraqi agents, now working for a different dictator? They must be good, because they were never discovered.
Why would the U.S. think this?
Both sides agree that American satellites photographed what American analysts said were Iraqi clean-up crews operating at a suspected chemical weapons site they had identified within 48 hours after the information about the site was shared with Unmovic.
Ah, yes. Covering up the evidence of WMDs.
Hmmm. Maybe it's even the same clean-up crew. Job security and all that.
I bring this up because famed journalist Robert Fisk has already been to the site and reported from it.
There’s even a friendly doctor in a green coat who, when I track him down in the very same clinic, cheerfully tells me that the “gas” videotape which horrified the world – despite all the doubters – is perfectly genuine.
War stories, however, have a habit of growing darker. For the same 58-year old senior Syrian doctor then adds something profoundly uncomfortable: the patients, he says, were overcome not by gas but by oxygen starvation in the rubbish-filled tunnels and basements in which they lived, on a night of wind and heavy shelling that stirred up a dust storm.
...Before we go any further, readers should be aware that this is not the only story in Douma. There are the many people I talked to amid the ruins of the town who said they had “never believed in” gas stories – which were usually put about, they claimed, by the armed Islamist groups.
So in other words, something truly horrible happened there, and it was done by the Syrian government, but it wasn't a gas attack.
Surely people will consider this news in a reasonable way, right?
No he doesn’t. He visited Daraya where the regime committed a massacre days before, accompanied by the regime army! He is writing propaganda for the regime. His crimes have been documented: https://t.co/nPeyzIZ0uQ
— Mark Boothroyd (@nurseboothroyd) April 17, 2018
So @janinedigi, you want Robert Fisk to be judged for war crimes for reporting on events, in a way that contradicts your priors?
Stalinism enforced by people disguized as journalists? https://t.co/JK41PxDtev
— Nassim Nicholas Taleb (@nntaleb) April 17, 2018
Well, at least we have admitted to what we've gotten wrong in Iraq. Right?
If you never admit to being fooled, then you never have to learn anything.