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WAS SADDAM HUSSEIN A THREAT?

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By Michelle Malkin  •  July 14, 2004 06:50 AM

Over and over again, we are reminded that the intelligence on WMDs in Iraq was flawed. Over and over again, we are informed that there was no collaborative relationship between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. The strong implication is not just that the case for war was built on “lies” and “hype” but that Saddam Hussein was never really a major threat to U.S. interests. This view has been gaining adherents even among some who initially supported the war. As William F. Buckley Jr. put it in a New York Times interview, “With the benefit of minute hindsight, Saddam Hussein wasn’t the kind of extra-territorial menace that was assumed by the administration one year ago…. If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the war.”

Against this backdrop, this National Review Online column by David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey is well worth reading. Rivkin and Casey argue that Saddam was indeed a major threat to vital U.S. interests, and that alternatives to war (i.e., international sanctions and U.N inspections), would have proven inadequate. An excerpt:

[T]he Democrat political establishment, including presidential candidate John Kerry, and his recently announced running mate John Edwards, have now broadened their attacks on the president’s Iraq policy. Having spent months arguing that the problem was not with the fact that the United States effected a regime change in Iraq, but rather with how the administration went about it — not enough international support and insufficient planning for the postwar period have been Kerry’s favorite allegations — now they have begun to claim that the whole enterprise was flawed.

These arguments are fundamentally wrong. They both underestimate the threat posed to the United States by Iraq’s WMD programs, erroneously equating the absence of WMD stockpiles at a particular point in time with the absence of a WMD threat, and trivialize other aspects of the unique strategic challenge of Saddam Hussein. They also ignore compelling evidence that the international sanctions regime was collapsing and that the real strategic choice facing the United States was not between a regime change and containment, but between a regime change and Saddam Hussein’s continuation in power, free from any meaningful constraints.

Read the whole thing.

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Categories: John Edwards, Politics