HENRY GALLAGHER FIELDS — They're going to attack! Quick, let's destroy our weapons!


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"They're going to attack!
Quick, let's destroy
our weapons!"



There's euphoria back home in the U.S. of A. these days on account of how our brave boys (and wymyn) achieved the quickest, most humane, and all-around greatest military victory in human history, the purpose of which was simply to liberate the oppressed Iraqi people from the clutches of the diabolical despot Saddam Hussein. But it seems that amid righteous jubilators we always find a few spoilsports. And sure enough, the handful of evil and cowardly folks who opposed the latest Great War of Liberation are now actually demanding to see proof of those weapons of mass destruction that the United States originally offered as the rationale for attacking Iraq.

Since that casus belli has almost completely drained into the memory hole, let's briefly restate it. For months before the actual war, administration officials and their media minions bellowed about Saddam's possession of weapons of mass destruction, which he would use against the United States if the United States didn't destroy him first. They maintained that Saddam would attack this country even though it would mean massive retaliation and his own destruction. That certain result wouldn't faze him because he was such a vicious maniac. However, when the United States invaded Iraq, somehow the viciously maniacal Saddam failed to use his alleged WMDs even to defend himself.

And now that it's in control of Iraq, the United States is unable to find physical evidence of any WMDs. But as we know from the study of other alleged events, when physical evidence is lacking, eyewitness accounts will suffice. Accordingly, Washington claims to have found an unnamed Iraqi scientist who managed to tell all. This scientist, whose name cannot be given lest he fall victim to reprisals, is said to have told American authorities that "Iraq destroyed chemical weapons and biological warfare equipment only days before the war began." (I'll attribute that quote in a minute.)

U.S. investigators claim they have visited the alleged WMD destruction site and have confirmed the scientist's story. So now we know why no weapons of mass destruction have been found: they couldn't possibly be found because they have all been destroyed!

That sensational revelation did not come out in the National Inquirer — "Anonymous Scientist Is Said to Have Told High U.S. Officials of Now-Vanished Landing Base for Flying Saucers from Planet X" — but rather made it as a lead story in the New York Times, the "newspaper of record," on April 21. Not only that, the Times article was immediately picked up by mainstream radio and TV outlets and became the major news story of the day.

The story, which is where that above quote came from, is "Illicit Arms Kept Till Eve of War, an Iraqi Scientist Is Said to Assert," by Judith Miller. Timeswoman Miller was not, of course, allowed to actually interview the anonymous scientist — got to protect his anonymity in dangerous Iraq, you understand — but instead derived her information, if that's what you want to call it, from military briefers. And she submitted her copy to be checked by military officials, for Our Government had to make sure that she was going to tell the exact TRUTH.

Rush Limbaugh and various other grand pooh-bahs of talk radio have been making a big deal of the tale. But your old H.G. has always been something of a skeptic, as lame and unstylish as that is, and there's something here that seems just a little counterintuitive. Let's go over the story carefully. With an American attack imminent, someone is said to have asserted (or is asserted to have said) that Saddam ordered the destruction of his most powerful weapons. Is that something that countries do when they are attacked or are about to be attacked? When Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union, did Stalin order the destruction of the Soviet weapons factories? Did Franklin Roosevelt scuttle the surviving portion of the U.S. fleet after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor? No, that is not what happened on those occasions, and I can't really think of a time when the Destroy Your Own Weapons When Faced with Imminent Attack strategy was ever adopted. In fact, there seems to be much empirical evidence that when countries are faced with an attack, they actually tend to produce rather than destroy weapons.

But apparently Saddam's actions are just one of those unique events in human history, sort of like another unique event I'll touch on shortly. Apparently Saddam's objective was not to defend himself but rather to embarrass the United States. Presumably Saddam was thinking along these lines: "The Americans will destroy my regime, occupy my country, and kill me, but it will all be worthwhile if I can embarrass those Americans by eliminating the evidence for the pretext of the invasion. Think of the ammunition I'll be giving to Noam Chomsky and Robert Fisk! The credibility of the United States will be severely damaged!"

That is a bit hard to swallow, especially in view of the fact that it's getting more and more difficult to damage the government's credibility here in the United States of Amnesia; but it is eerily reminiscent of one deed that we all must officially believe in. I'm thinking of the Nazis' total destruction of all the physical evidence of their mass exterminations in the Jewish Holocaust. As Auschwitz expert Robert Jan van Pelt pointed out at the Irving/Lipstadt trial, in their gigantic coverup the Nazis even went so far as to fill in the holes in the Auschwitz-Birkenau gas chamber roof so it wouldn't look like a gas chamber. If it were not for the many hundreds of thousands of still-living Holocaust survivors in their '70s, '80s, and '90s who personally witnessed the extermination activities, a rational person might be tempted to doubt that this most evil event in human history ever occurred. But in any case we know that Auschwitz was thoroughly examined by the Soviet War Crimes Commission, no doubt in the same way that "U.S. investigators" methodically sifted through that WMD site in Iraq.

In fact, I have noticed similarities between the Holocaust and Saddam's WMDs before. The current revelation of the total destruction of the physical evidence lends more credibility to a recommendation I made in my previous article, "Visions of war propaganda past." Given the fact that the evidence of Saddam's infamy has disappeared in a manner similar to the disappearance of the physical evidence of the Holocaust, the government may want to consider reconstructing the evidence of Saddam's WMDs, just as the Polish Communists reconstructed that gas chamber at Auschwitz to help teach millions of visitors the depths of Hitler's evil and the suffering of his victims. Plastic models of bio-weapons vans and gas-spraying aircraft ought to do the trick, especially if accompanied by a Spielberg movie showing Saddam deviously destroying all of his weapons of mass destruction. Audiences would love the impressive special-effects scenes of Saddam's nuclear weapons exploding in secret underground caves. (As Spielberg well knows, a little embellishment in the service of illustrating evil never hurts.)

Undoubtedly, the System would have to contend with a handful of deniers who would claim that a program of weapons destruction would have to have left traces of radiation, chemical residue, or what have you — in short, that WMDs can't simply vanish. But such deniers could easily be ignored, or perhaps incarcerated for their own good.

After all, when we have the word of U.S. government officials that a man who claims to have been an Iraqi government scientist told them that Saddam destroyed all his WMDs, how could we possibly think otherwise? Especially since no physical traces of the weapons survive?

April 25, 2003

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