Monday, February 05, 2007

Opinion (Paul Pillar): What to Ask Before the Next War

"You see a picture of this camp. The network is teaching its operatives how to produce ricin and other poisons. Let me remind you how ricin works. Less than a pinch--image a pinch of salt--less than a pinch of ricin, eating just this amount in your food, would cause shock followed by circulatory failure. Death comes within 72 hours and there is no antidote, there is no cure. It is fatal." -- Colin Powell in his address to U.N. on Iraqi WMDs

Imagine that the famously flawed intelligence judgments about Iraq's programs to develop unconventional weapons had been correct. What difference would that have made to the American effort in Iraq?

The Bush administration would have had fewer rhetorical difficulties in defending its decision to go to war, even though any discoveries of weapons programs would have confirmed nothing about the use to which Saddam Hussein might someday have put such weapons or whether Iraq would eventually have acquired nuclear weapons.

But the war itself would be the same agonizing ordeal. An insurgency driven by motives having nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction and little to do with Hussein would still be going on.

Read the rest at the Washington Post