Alexander's Column

Iraq's weapons programs declaration

Mark Alexander · Dec. 20, 2002

The Bush administration released its finding concerning Iraq’s UN-mandated declaration of its weapons programs Thursday, with Secretary of State Colin Powell saying the declaration is “a new lie” as well as “a catalog of recycled information and systematic omissions. … If that is going to be the way they continue through the weeks ahead, then we’re not going to find a peaceful solution to this problem.” Noting that Baghdad will not have another opportunity to disclose information related to its weapons of mass destruction, President George Bush is expected to officially declare Iraq in “material breach” of the UN Security Council Resolution 1441, which requires Iraqi disclosure as well as the current round of weapons inspections now in progress.

In preparation to enforce Resolution 1441, President Bush is positioning about a half million tons of diplomacy around the Middle East. The USS Nimitz, Kitty Hawk, Truman and Constellation (on its way to relieve the Abraham Lincoln) will serve as the primary air operation platforms to complete the imminent “regime change” in Iraq. The British carrier HMS Ark Royal will join the U.S. battle fleet. As The Federalist has previously noted, the “smart weapon” capabilities in our stocks have improved exponentially over those used in the Gulf in 1991, and while the carrier groups launching sorties in Desert Storm could hit up to 162 targets a day, the target capacity of the fleet being stationed now is 700 targets a day – with greater lethal accuracy. Preparing for the ground war, the U.S. Army has already amassed 75,000 troops in the Gulf, and another 150,000 troops, including frontline warriors from the 101st and 82nd Airborne and 10th Mountain, are in the pipeline. American tanks are standing by in Qatar, and Sixth Cavalry Apaches and Blackhawks are ready to launch from Kuwait.

Clearly, Saddam’s days are numbered. If he does not request asylum from some Iraqi-friendly nation like, say, France, once hostilities commence he can expect to see some heretofore unknown weapons emerge from U.S. arsenals. Two weeks ago, we reported on a key component of the President’s National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction: “The United States will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force – including through resort to all of our options – to the use of [weapons of mass destruction] against the United States, our forces abroad, and friends and allies.” Of course, “all our options” includes our conventional and nuclear response and defense capabilities, like the new low-yield nuclear bunker augers that can reach Saddam Hussein in the deepest of rat holes.

The ideal time for “regime change” is prior to March, when the visibility and desert temperatures are optimal for military operations. As was the case with the 1991 Persian Gulf War, U.S. forces will be fully in place for an assault early in the new year.

On the ground in Iraq, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group conducted large numbers of covert interviews in Baghdad, Mosul and Najaf, and ICG reports, “Few Iraqis opposed an invasion for patriotic reasons or fear that an attack would lead to heavy civilian casualties.” This finding is corroborated with numerous other reliable samplings of public opinion in Iraq regarding regime change. Most middle class Iraqis seem to believe that they have little to lose if the current tyrant dictator Saddam is removed.