David Makin's, The Vortex

Weapons of Mass Deception

by R.C. Cooper

The debate rages on about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. After his son-in-law ratted him out in 1995, the UN inspectors found WMDs throughout Iraq. The inspectors verified that Saddam had boodles of chems and biols and the artillery and aircraft and missiles to deliver them, and that he was closer to nukes than anyone had guessed. Yet even with all these dramatic finds, whole stockpiles of WMDs were unaccounted for. Then, in 1998, Saddam kicked out the inspectors. When they returned in 2002 the stockpiles were still unaccounted for—and Saddam refused to divulge either where they were or, if he had disposed of them, when and how he had done so. Further, many asked, “What new horror-weapons has the tyrant been cooking up since 1998?” Surely, they thought, a ruthless and ambitious fellow like Saddam would take advantage of the four-year blackout to rush new chems and biols into production. Yet after the lightning war, when our troops and the CIA scoured the country for evidence—where were the WMDs?

The anti-war warriors screamed at the US administration “Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!” and Rummy yelled back, “Just wait! Just wait! For a very important date. No time to say….”

Had the US been fooled by a cruel and canny Saddam? If so, what was his motive? If playing false would obviously cost him his kingdom and maybe his life, why would a survivor like Saddam play false? It made no sense.

Or had the world been fooled by a crude and canny US president? If so, what was the president’s motive? If playing false might cost him the 04 election, why would a man determined to outdo his one-term dad play false? It made no sense.

“You’re barking up the wrong theory,” says my anti-war bud Brookings Fellow, fingering a nare. “There’s been a deception, all right, two in fact, and they’ve taken in everybody. The whole world has been conned.”

I ask Brookings to explain himself.

“As usual,” says he, “everyone has been asking the wrong questions. They should have been asking about the heart and aspirations of Saddam Hussein. We know, don’t we, that he desired to be the next Saladin, savior of the Muslim world? And we know that he also wished to live in splendor, create for himself a veritable Garden of Allah here on earth. During the war with Iran he discovered, to his dismay, that he could not do both. Oh he made a desperate attempt to have his cake and eat it too by seizing the Kuwaiti oilfields. But after we kicked him out of Kuwait and imposed sanctions on him, he was worse off than ever. Palaces or Muslim power—that was the choice. In the end, as we’ve seen, Saddam chose instant gratification over glory.”

Brookings’ gaze does not waver.

“Look here,” say I somewhat irritably, “what does all this have to do with WMDs?”

“Everything. What my theory says is that Saddam never had WMDs. Not a single one. He never used WMDs against the Iranians or the Kurds, and he never stockpiled them.”

“Wait a minute,” say I, “hold it right there. I’ve seen the Kurd photos myself. Shocking!”

“A scam. Saddam’s man paid the villagers a few cents apiece to lie down for five minutes.”

“For what ungodly reason?”

“To awe his neighbors on the cheap. The same with all of his ostensible WMDs. He had no clue how to make them and couldn’t afford to buy them, not if he wanted all those splendiforous palaces; so he faked it. That’s why he couldn’t account for the WMDs later—there never were any. But Saddam was far too embarrassed to admit it. His prestige would have died a thousand deaths.”

Brookings smugs me with a smile.

“I don’t buy it,” say I. “What about the WMDs the UN inspectors found after the sons-in-law defected to Jordan and ratted out Saddam?”

“Let me answer your question with a question. What were the sons-in-law doing in Jordan?”

“They defected there.”

“How long did they stay?”

“I don’t remember exactly. Not very long.”

“Where did they go when they left?”

“Back to Iraq.”

Brookings trumped me with a smile.

“There you have it! Didn’t it occur to you to ask why two men who knew Saddam very well and had just betrayed him would be so foolhardy as to return to Iraq?”

“It did seem insane, I’ll admit. Saddam had them murdered.”

“Not so. They’re still alive. It was all part of the scam. Saddam’s Baathist buddies in Syria were in on it. Where do you think Saddam got the real WMDs to plant for the inspectors? Why do you suppose the sons-in-law stopped in Syria on the way back to Iraq? Wheeling and dealing.”

Brookings fried me with a smile.

“I’m confused,” say I. “Why would Saddam borrow WMDs for the inspectors to find? It would only make him look bad.”

“You mean make him look good. To his neighbors in the region. A ploy for maintaining his power and prestige without laying out tons of geetis. Only his Syrian buds knew the secret, and they had to protect their fellow Baathist. But the scam backfired, because once the inspectors had destroyed the Syrian WMDs, Saddam couldn’t account for all the others he’d been faking, nor could he admit he’d been faking. The rest is history. Saddam was hoist by his own petard.”

“But where was the CIA during all these shenanigans?”

“Where do you think?” Brookings slys me with a wink. “They were in briefings with the likes of Chalabi who, after being prepped by Wolfowitz and Perle, told the CIA precisely where to find all the WMDs.”

“That haven’t been found.”

“Exactly.”

“So you’re telling me…?”

“Exactly. Saddam had his scam, but the administration had an even bigger one.”