The Real Smoking Gun
President Bush and his detractors may not agree on the answer to
the problems posed by Iraq and its genocidal leader, Saddam
Hussein. But at least they agree on the question: Where is the
The detractors mean that, unless United Nations inspectors defy all
odds, overcome a near-complete lack of cooperation by Iraq and find
weapons that threaten the United States, we have no reason to
President Bush asks the question in a more literal sense: Where
have the 25,000 liters of anthrax gone? What about the 38,000
liters of botulinum toxin and the 500 tons of mustard, sarin and VX
nerve gas? And how about the 30,000 missiles and short-range
rockets Iraq has failed to account for? We know Saddam had
all of this. The report he submitted to U.N. inspectors, which was
to have declared all weapons of mass destruction, doesn't mention
them. What gives?
We could, of course, wait till terrorists attack again. Then, we'd
know for sure.
Thankfully, President Bush wants to find and eliminate the weapons
without thousands more Americans having to die on their homeland.
He knows Saddam would be more than willing to use nuclear weapons
against American interests or allies-or sell them to others to use
The president knows Saddam has attacked three neighboring
countries, gassed 5,000 of his countrymen and tortured, raped and
mutilated thousands more Iraqis. He knows Saddam cares not a whit
about the United Nations, its inspection regime or its resolutions
that call for him to disarm. He knows-from U.N. inspectors and
defectors from Iraq's weapons-of-mass-destruction program-that
Saddam thinks nothing of lying and hiding stockpiles of weapons
where inspectors can't find them.
The detractors want more inspections, more time. But even now, U.N.
inspectors say the Iraqis aren't cooperating and that their
attempts to talk candidly with Iraqi scientists have been thwarted
at every step. We can't blame the scientists. They've been told
they and their families will be killed if they cooperate with
inspectors. And unlike President Bush's misguided critics, they
know Saddam is evil enough to do it.
Saddam knows that if his scientists don't cooperate, inspectors
must search an area the size of California for a cache of chemicals
small enough to fit inside a suitcase and powerful enough to kill
President Bush-responsible for the lives of the American
people-can't afford to cross his fingers and just "be patient." He
knows what havoc these weapons could wreak if deployed against the
According to Department of Defense computer models, a small
fraction of Iraq's suspected stockpile-about 440 pounds of
anthrax-released from a plane above Manhattan would spread for more
than 100 miles, kill more than 1 million people and send millions
more to hospitals with injuries from which they may never recover.
Similar scenarios hold true for VX nerve gas, botulinum toxin and
And President Bush knows better than to rely on the good humor or
good sense of Saddam or his family. Saddam's eldest son, Uday
Hussein, said recently that the Sept. 11 tragedies "will look like
a picnic" should Iraq feel threatened.
No one wants war. My brother, sister and father all have served or
now serve in the military, and I certainly don't want to see any of
them in harm's way. I enlisted in the U.S. Navy when I was 18 years
old, and many of my shipmates are in the Persian Gulf today, ready
to do what must be done if called upon.
And it need not be war. If only Saddam would honor the commitments
he made to the international community and declare his weapons and
de-activate them, war could be avoided. America has no imperial
designs on Iraq and has promised Russia, France and others that
postwar Iraq will be made to honor the financial commitments and
oil leases made by Saddam's regime.
It's one thing to hope against hope that Saddam will come around
and that war can be avoided. But President Bush must live in the
real world, and that means we have reached the point where some
tough decisions must be made.
And the choice is clear. This is about life and death. It's about
finding and eliminating the smoking guns that threaten our lives.
If we wait to find the smoking guns the president's detractors keep
clamoring for, we may have far, far fewer lives left to
, a former
Naval Flight Officer, is a database editor and threat-assessment
specialist in the Center for Media and Public Policy at The
Heritage Foundation (www.heritage.org), a Washington-based public
policy research institute.
Originally appeared the Boston Herald