« I MUST have one of these!! | Main | "Acheson and de Gaulle," Part whatever »

Comprehensive Iraqi WMD report

Well, I've downloaded the report (you can too, here), but it's going to take me a while to sift through all 200 MB of it. From reading the MSM headlines, one might conclude the official report is 1,000 pages of "He didn't have any!" (think Jack Nicholson's "novel" from The Shining.) Something tells me the full story may be considerably more "nuanced" than that, however.

I think by this point, most people have concluded that Iraq probably did not possess large stockpiles of WMD at the time of the war, so there's not a lot of "news" here, in that sense. But even in the "key findings" summary, there is worrisome information that poses a challenge to the "sanctions were working" crowd. First, the report makes abundantly clear that Saddam had by no means abandoned his obsession with WMD, and had no shortage of revenue, thanks to the "oil for food" program. Moreover, the sanctions regime had been gradually unraveling, due both to a steady erosion of international will and the fact that many prominent players in the U.N. program were on the take.

By 2000-2001, Saddam had managed to mitigate many of the effects of sanctions and undermine their international support. Iraq was within striking distance of a de facto end to the sanctions regime, both in terms of oil exports and the trade embargo, by the end of 1999.

The report makes clear that the only genuine obstacle to Saddam's WMD quest had all but ceased to exist. It seems to me that the timing of the war was very close to optimal.