On the one side were those who felt that "containment" was the correct approach, and on the other was the argument that only the use of armed forces could remove the threat. President Bush and Prime Minister Blair both felt that in the context of the post-9/11 world that the potential for state-sponsored terrorism, especially given a regime like Saddam's and his record on supporting terrorism, was too great a threat to leave to inspectors and diplomats. That no weapons have been found, and none are likely to be found, had been troublesome to us at the Lost-Tooth Society and to many others.
The Duelfer Report, however, makes clear (as outlined briefly in our post below) that Saddam had a very clear strategy:
- Use the Oil for Food (OFF) program to line the pockets of politicians and diplomats from countries sympathetic to Iraq and thereby gain additional support, especially from countries with veto power in the UN Security Council.
- By 'sort of' cooperating—albeit reluctantly—with the UN, he would work to have all the sanctions removed, while at the same time he was working to have in place all the pieces and people to quickly restart work on the WMD's, once the international scrutiny was removed.
- To avoid appearing weak, Saddam also chose to put forth the illusion that he may very well have WMD's during this process.
The fatal flaw in his strategy was trying to avoid the appearance of weakness, mostly to feed his own ego, but probably also out of a concern that unfriendly neighbors might see weakness as an opportunity to strike. Had he instead chosen to open wide the doors of his country to all who wanted to see that he no longer possessed WMD's, his plan may have succeeded. Certainly the invasion undertaken by coalition forces would not have taken place.
Despite the loss of life on both sides of the conflict, removing Saddam from power, and stopping his plan to re-acquire WMD's was the right thing the do.