"We stopped the fighting [in 1991] on an agreement that Iraq would take steps to assure the world that it would not engage in further aggression and that it would destroy its weapons of mass destruction. It has refused to take those steps. That refusal constitutes a breach of the armistice which renders it void and justifies resumption of the armed conflict."
Senator Harry Reid (Democrat, Nevada)
Addressing the US Senate
October 9, 2002
Congressional Record, p. S10145
Addressing the US Senate
October 9, 2002
Congressional Record, p. S10145
Could President George W. Bush have been right all along? In February 2002 former Senator Al Gore sure seemed to think so.
Al Gore said last night that the time had come for a "final reckoning" with Iraq, describing the country as a "virulent threat in a class by itself" and suggesting that the United States should consider ways to oust President Saddam Hussein.
In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Mr. Gore generally praised President Bush's performance since Sept. 11, but raised questions about how Mr. Bush had worked with other nations in the war in Afghanistan and against Al Qaeda. ...
"The coalition so skillfully assembled by the president is one that may dissipate as rapidly as it coalesced, unless we make an investment in its permanence, beginning with a more evident respect on our part for the views and interests of its members," he said.
Mr. Gore, speaking four miles from the ruins of the World Trade Center, applauded Mr. Bush for singling out Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an "axis of evil" in his State of the Union address. But Mr. Gore argued that there were underlying forces in the Islamic world that were encouraging anti-American sentiment and breeding terrorism that the United States needed to urgently address.
"There is another axis of evil in the world: poverty and ignorance; disease and environmental disorder; corruption and political oppression," he said. "We may well put down terror in its present manifestations. But if we do not attend to the larger fundamentals as well, then the ground is fertile and has been seeded for the next generation of those born to hate the United States of America."
More on Al Gore's position on how President George H.W. Bush handled Iraq during Desert Storm and his conclusions about the dangers posed by Iraq later ...
While President Obama is deciding what action(s) to take regarding the increasingly dangerous situation in Iraq, the rest of the world is not sitting idly by. "Vladimir Putin has offered Russia's "complete support" to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the fight against Isis-led insurgents, according to a statement from the Kremlin. As yet, there is no detail on what such an offer means - will the Russian leader seize the opportunity to step in with the help the US has so far refused? As well as an opportunity for a little geopolitical one-upmanship, Mr Putin also has his beleaguered ally Bashar al-Assad to think about - should Isis be victorious in Iraq, it will be far harder for the Syrian leader (like Maliki, also a Shia, though of the Allawite sect) to hold on to power across the border." as reported by the UK Telegraph
Watch The Telegraph's exclusive interview with Sheikh Ahmed al-Dabash, a founder of the Islamic Army of Iraq, a group formed to fight the Americans in the wake of the 2003 invasion and which is now battling Iraqi troops alongside Isis:
A top commander of the Sunni insurgency in Iraq has told The Telegraph how his men are fighting alongside the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham to take back Baghdad, even if it means pushing the country to civil war.
Sheikh Ahmed al-Dabash, 47, a founder of the Islamic Army of Iraq, who fought the allied invasion in 2003, has told how thousands of his men are participating in the Isis-led insurgency that swept across northern Iraq, and which now threatens the gates of the capital.
The Islamic Army, however, does not share the same extremist ideology of Isis, Mr Dabash said in an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, and raised the prospect of his faction one day turning its guns on their jihadist comrades.
“If Maliki [the Iraqi prime minister] does not step down, then there is no doubt that we are moving on Baghdad,” said Mr Dabash. “We will go all the way.”
So what about the Saddam era weapons now in Sunni hands? Are they viable weapons that may be used in the present conflict or future actions?
Washington—Sunni extremists in Iraq have occupied what was once Saddam Hussein's premier chemical-weapons production facility, a complex that still contains a stockpile of old weapons, State Department and other U.S. government officials said.
U.S. officials don't believe the Sunni militants will be able to create a functional chemical weapon from the material. The weapons stockpiled at the Al Muthanna complex are old, contaminated and hard to move, officials said.
Nonetheless, the capture of the chemical-weapon stockpile by the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, known as ISIS or ISIL, the militant group that is seizing territory in the country, has grabbed the attention of the U.S.
"We remain concerned about the seizure of any military site by the ISIL," Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, said in a written statement. "We do not believe that the complex contains CW materials of military value and it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to safely move the materials."
Thats interesting, in 2006 The US Department of Defense National Ground Intelligence Center report found that though somewhat degraded, these munitions still met the criterion for WMD's.
WASHINGTON, June 29, 2006 – The 500 munitions discovered throughout Iraq since 2003 and discussed in a National Ground Intelligence Center report meet the criteria of weapons of mass destruction, the center's commander said here today.
"These are chemical weapons as defined under the Chemical Weapons Convention, and yes ... they do constitute weapons of mass destruction," Army Col. John Chu told the House Armed Services Committee.
The Chemical Weapons Convention is an arms control agreement which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. It was signed in 1993 and entered into force in 1997.
The munitions found contain sarin and mustard gases, Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said. Sarin attacks the neurological system and is potentially lethal.
"Mustard is a blister agent (that) actually produces burning of any area (where) an individual may come in contact with the agent," he said. It also is potentially fatal if it gets into a person's lungs.
The munitions addressed in the report were produced in the 1980s, Maples said. Badly corroded, they could not currently be used as originally intended, Chu added.
While that's reassuring, the agent remaining in the weapons would be very valuable to terrorists and insurgents, Maples said. "We're talking chemical agents here that could be packaged in a different format and have a great effect," he said, referencing the sarin-gas attack on a Japanese subway in the mid-1990s.
This is true even considering any degradation of the chemical agents that may have occurred, Chu said. It's not known exactly how sarin breaks down, but no matter how degraded the agent is, it's still toxic.
"Regardless of (how much material in the weapon is actually chemical agent), any remaining agent is toxic," he said. "Anything above zero (percent agent) would prove to be toxic, and if you were exposed to it long enough, lethal."
Though about 500 chemical weapons - the exact number has not been released publicly - have been found, Maples said he doesn't believe Iraq is a "WMD-free zone."
President Obama seems to have the same idea about the Iraqi government as Sheikh Ahmed al-Dabash:
WASHINGTON—The Obama administration is signaling that it wants a new government in Iraq without Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, convinced the Shiite leader is unable to reconcile with the nation's Sunni minority and stabilize a volatile political landscape.
The U.S. administration is indicating it wants Iraq's political parties to form a new government without Mr. Maliki as he tries to assemble a ruling coalition following elections this past April, U.S. officials say.
Such a new government, U.S., officials say, would include the country's Sunni and Kurdish communities and could help to stem Sunni support for the al Qaeda offshoot, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, that has seized control of Iraqi cities over the past two weeks. That, the officials argue, would help to unify the country and reverse its slide into sectarian division.
On Wednesday, Iraq stepped up efforts on several fronts to blunt the insurgency's progress, deploying counterterrorism units and helicopter gunships to battle them for control of the country's main oil refinery, in Beiji.
As The Washington Post reported earlier today "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will not readily surrender power and is unlikely to do so unless chief ally Iran insists that he go, Maliki’s foes and supporters are warning as pressure mounts on the embattled Iraqi leader to make concessions to rivals or step aside."
“This is not going to be easy,” said Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlak, a Sunni who has led many fruitless efforts to build parliamentary coalitions against Maliki in the past. “Maliki will not go quietly.”
Previous attempts to oust Maliki through constitutional means have foundered on the inability of his foes to unite around an alternative candidate. According to the parliamentary system of government spelled out in Iraq’s constitution, drawn up under U.S. supervision in 2005, whoever commands a majority of seats in the parliament forms the government, making it theoretically possible to replace any leader by mustering the support of enough lawmakers.
A bigger obstacle to forcing Maliki’s departure, however, could be the support of Iran, which has shown no sign that it is preparing to dilute its backing for the prime minister. The support includes funding and training for the private militias that back Maliki, many of whose members have taken to the streets in recent days in response to a call to arms.
“The only outside power that could get rid of Maliki is Iran,” said Kenneth Pollack of the Washington-based Brookings Institution. “And even if the Iranians decided they wanted him out, I am not sure they could do it. Maliki has the loyalties of the security forces and the loyalty of the militias, and it is going to be extremely hard to get rid of him.”
And so it's becoming increasingly clear that the non-existent WMD's in Iraq sure are causing a flap now, just as they did all those years ago. It is also abundantly clear that it was a mistake to campaign on "ending the war in Iraq" for political purposes before a stable government and a proper Status of Forces Agreement had the support of the incoming Obama Administration was a complete folly.
For further reading and study I offer the following back ground on the position(s) of various Democrats during the Clinton and Bush administrations:
Then Senator Al Gore on Iraq, Terrorism, and WMD under President George H.W. Bush
Senator Hillary Clinton Iraq War Full Speech 10/10/02 Part 1 & Part 2
Quotes and Facts on Iraq
Snopes on "Words of Mass Destruction" (yeah I HATE Snopes too)
And finally for some perspective:
Or have I been eating paint chips again?