According to the NY Sun, a superb broadsheet that has in less then three years become a major addition to the NYC news scene, a former top Israeli general says he knows where the WMD went: to Syria, in a six-week period prior to the March 2003 start of Round Two with Saddam. For three years ending this summer General Moshe Yaalon was chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Force. Also, on December 23, 2002--3 months before the war--Israeli PM Ariel Sharon told an interviewer that Saddam had moved chemical and biological weapons to Syria (which shares a 376-mile border with Iraq) to conceal them from inspectors. (Syria is one of eight countries that has not signed the Convention banning chemical weapons.) US satellite reconnaissance detected trucks moving en masse into Syria during the run-up to the war.
Which raises a question about media coverage: Why did so many journalists, upon learning that no WMD had been found in Iraq, immediately frame the issue as one of the Bush Administration either lying or tilting pre-war intelligence re WMD? Ever poetic in her Wall Street Journal piece today, Peggy Noonan notes a crashing non sequitur to the "Bush lied" refrain pushed by Howard Dean, whom she calls "that human helium baloon ever resistant to the gravity of mature judgment": If Bush would lie to get us into the war, surely he would have lied after the war, by fabricating WMD finds inside Iraq. Given that everyone expected us to find scads of WMD there, the is an excellent chance that such a lie could have succeeded. Yet Bush told the truth, at a great political cost that was foreseeable, and easily could have cost him the 2004 election.
In a 2003 column endorsing the Iraq war option, Poetic Peg framed matters perfectly (sorry about the format of these transferred quotes):
"At this point Iraq is, for each of us, a gut call. We probably have as much information and hard data as we're going to get. There are different ways to interpret the evidence, to understand the peril. No one can prove containment will work in the future, for instance, and no one can prove that it won't. There will be a price to pay if we invade. There will be a price to pay if we don't. And ultimately you have to go with your instinct, your gut sense of the world and of men."
She then concluded:
"We cannot expect a successful invasion of Iraq to result in a new age of peace and security. Islamic terrorism won't stop until all the terrorists themselves are jailed or killed. They will probably do terrible things again before the West decides once and for all and en masse to stop them. We are in for rough times. It cannot be said often enough that we are in the era of weapons of mass destruction. It is one thing for a Hitler to plan a war, build up his military and move strategically to get what he wants. It is quite another when a thousand little Hilters get their hands on one huge weapon and passionately, nihilistically go forth to kill. There will be plenty more heartache before the drama is done.
"But we can't dodge history. History won't let us. We'll have to deal with it, do our best, lead for the good. Iraq is part of the pattern of world terror. To move against it is a gamble. But to do nothing is a gamble too. It's gambling on Saddam's future goodwill, a new reluctance on his part to use what he has, a change of heart, mind and character. Does that strike you as a safe bet? A good one?
The Iraq WMD issue could easily have been framed thus: Where and when did Saddam dispose of his WMD? The idea that Saddam would denude himself of WMD and not tell the world only made sense if: (a) he could hide them someplace for later recovery and (b) he believed that his friends at the UN--on his oil-for-food payroll--could prevent America from destroying his regime. Yet this angle was jettisoned in favor of the "Bush lied" or "Cheney & the neos tilted the intel" lines. That three major independent, exhaustive reports (two here, one in the UK) have concluded that intel was not tilted made no impression on MSM, whose members cling even now to their thesis. One can only conclude that MSM wants to damage 43 as much as possible.
NY Sun: Saddam's WMD Moved to Syria
Noonan 2005: Iraq's Not About Bush
Noonan 2003: Iraq a "Gut Call"