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News FBI: Saddam Hussein was bluffing about WMDs

  1. Jul 2, 2009 #1

    None of our intelligence agencies were able to figure out he really didn't have any wmds?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 2, 2009 #2


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    In poker as in life often the bigger risk in bluffing isn't that people won't believe you but that they will but will call your bluff anyway because they know they still have better cards.
  4. Jul 2, 2009 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    I have often wondered what the result would have been if he had wmds. If he had them, then he certainly would have used them when we invaded. At the time it seemed that if he was really as dangerous as the Bush admin claimed, then rushing in [as we did] was foolish. It could have easily been the greatest slaughter of US troops in history.

    I also thought knowledge of his bluff was public information long ago.
  5. Jul 2, 2009 #4
    Well that's why the troops were in full NBC gear. If you remember back to the invasion, they were fully expecting a WMD attack. However, I don't know if even if he could have, if Hussein would have used them. Because that would have proven to the world the U.S. was correct all along and fully 100% no-questions-asked justified in invading, that he really was a threat.
  6. Jul 2, 2009 #5
    If North Korea now claims that it has WMD (and assuming that their claim is true), what would you suggest US (/world) to do?

    I don't think sitting and waiting to get the country into negotiations would have been better than attacking in the case the claim was true.
  7. Jul 2, 2009 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    NK is a good example of what I'm talking about. History shows that we have handled that situation far differently than we did Iraq. We know that attacking NK would come with grave consequences, so we are far less inclined to go rushing in.

    As for the notion that Saddam wouldn't have used wmds when the US attacked: If he was ever going to use the alleged stockpiles of wmds that he had, it certainly would have been when attacked by the US. What victory could he have hoped to claim that would be greater than the death of tens of thousands of US troops? What's more, he was literally fighting for his life. Frankly, the notion that he wouldn't defend Baghdad with everything he had is silly, IMO. By the same logic, the post-war search for wmds was academic.

    Can anyone prove that the bulk of US troops were prepared for anything Saddam was alleged to have? Wasn't the claim even made that he had nukes? Can you imagine knowingly sending our troops into a nuclear holocaust?
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2009
  8. Jul 2, 2009 #7

    But these weapons are meant to be used at someone's place not on your own land. I seriously doubt he would have nuked his place to kill US troops. But he would have loved to use them on US land.

    Edit: As for North Korea, I think it would be impossible to attack if it gets ability to nuke to NA
    And for Iraq, I would have been more concerned about it nuking US/US allies in retaliation rather than its own land.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2009
  9. Jul 2, 2009 #8
    Yes, I doubt he would have nuked his own country. I am pretty sure though that the U.S. had the troops in full NBC gear and also dropped leaflets on the Iraqi military saying if they tried using such weapons on U.S. troops, they would only harm themselves.
  10. Jul 2, 2009 #9


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    Thus the rushing in a couple days early, to catch SH unprepared. [/speculation]

    I was always under the impression that the proximity and attitude of Russia and China were the dominating factors here.

    (Aside: NK also demonstrates that not going in has consequences too)
  11. Jul 3, 2009 #10
    That was always my impression too, also remember, Iraq violated the ceasefire with the U.S. multiple times. I believe that alone technically allowed the U.S. to invade (I might be wrong though, and also that doesn't mean we needed to invade in and of itself of course).

    I do not think North Korea has violated the ceasefire they have with South Korea and America thus far. North Korea alone, militarily, I think it would be fairly easy for the U.S. to take out North Korea, I mean they have no real military. However if they get nukes, that could/will be a problem.

    If Japan starts to develop nukes though, which some say we should encourage, this will get the Chinese to stop the NKs from developing nukes, because they are terrified of a nuclear-armed Japan.
  12. Jul 3, 2009 #11
    Well unlike Iraq where the Bush administration probably knew there were no weapons of mass destruction, North Korea does have weapons of mass destruction namely a few atomic bombs and possibly chemical weapons. I seriously doubt that the Joint Chief of Staffs would have sent in hundreds of thousands of American troops unprotected if there was even the slightest sniff of Saddam Hussein intending to use WMDs.

    Hardly surprising. His paranoia and fervent anti Persian feelings led to a devastating eight year war and brutal oppression of his own people who were majority Shi'ite so yes, he was scared of Iran and regarded it as a mortal enemy.
  13. Jul 3, 2009 #12
    The invasion of Iraq happened because the US became a little paranoid like Saddam or Stalin used to be.

    Well, given how the invasion unfolded, we can be sure that eventually the insurgents and Al Qa'ida would have gotten hold of the WMD.
  14. Jul 3, 2009 #13
    I always thought the sole reason for George Bush invading Iraq was to finish the business that Daddy started. George H. W. Bush was roundly criticized for not removing SH during the Gulf war. In his biography he mentioned that it would have been a lengthy process and not worth the cost.

    My feeling was that George Jr. felt that he could satisfy the conservatives and show up his father by removing SH. The WMD issue was nothing more than a smokescreen and is reason he didn't let the U.N. inspectors finish their search. If they had, and they found nothing, he wouldn't have had a reason to invade.
  15. Jul 3, 2009 #14
    Saddam Hussein was bluffing about WMDs...!!!

    I'm laughing ... I said that years ago, and was ridiculed and criticized back then.
  16. Jul 7, 2009 #15


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    Saddam Hussein did have chemical and nerve gas artillery shells, large stocks of it in the Gulf war, and a few shells http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/05/26/iraq.duelfer/" [Broken], one or two were actually detonated in the insurgency. The shells found in 2004 were probably not useful in a military sense, as they were not well maintained and degrading, thus they would not be reliable as a weapon. In both wars Hussein failed to use the weapons, we know that at least in the Gulf war that was a deliberate decision.

    As a general matter the effective military use of chemical or biological WMD against an opposing military force in the open field requires a substantial amount of weaponry sophistication, and then substantial know-how and training by the forces employing it to do so while avoiding fratricide. This is especially true against against forces well prepared for it like the US. (Everybody had MOP gear handy, got their bio agent shots.). Witness the first above ground attempt by the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo sarin gas group which injured ... nobody. Hussein did have the ability attack from aircraft as in his Iran war, but he was quickly deprived of that ability against the West.

    Even a nuclear attack does not escape these difficulties, as a first Iraqi device would very likely have been no more powerful the Hiroshima bomb and could only be ground detonated. It would have taken substantial luck to take out even one US brigade (~5000 ), as a brigade spreads out over more than ~100 sq km.

    All this I trust equally serves to illustrate the converse, that it is a relatively simple matter to indiscriminately kill a great number of civilians, where people are concentrated and unprotected, and the attack can wait for the wind to blow the right way.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halabja_poison_gas_attack" [Broken].)
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  17. Jul 7, 2009 #16
    Thing is that chemical weapons were not used a lot by Saddam in the Al Anfal campaign against the Kurds. So, the Saddam regime must have concluded that the use of chemical weapons was not effective.

    All this was known to US intelligence, of course. So the only reason why the WMD issue was used against Saddam was for procedural reasons. It was the only argument to US and Britain had to prevent the Security Council from lifting sanctions. But this then means that Saddam would never be allowed to prove that he didn't have WMD.

    At a certain point, the US and British officials started to believe in their own propaganda....
  18. Jul 7, 2009 #17


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    Maybe my memory's failling me, but I thought it was Saddam who wouldn't let them finish their search.
  19. Jul 7, 2009 #18


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    Yes and no. http://www.factmonster.com/spot/iraqtimeline2.html" [Broken]:
    Jan 13, 1998 - Iraq suspends all cooperation with the UN inspectors
    Oct. 11, 2002 - [US]Congress authorizes an attack on Iraq.
    Nov. 18, 2002 - UN weapons inspectors return to Iraq, for the first time in almost four years.
    Feb. 14, 2003 - In a February UN report, chief UN inspector Hans Blix indicated that slight progress had been made in Iraq's cooperation. Both pro- and anti-war nations felt the report supported their point of view.
    Mar 17, 2003 - Weapons inspectors leave as the war is eminent.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  20. Jul 8, 2009 #19
    "Jan 13, 1998 - Iraq suspends all cooperation with the UN inspectors"

    was prompted by "Operation Desert Fox" in which Iraq was bombed without permission from the UNSC.

    It was clear that the US and Britain were looking for excuses to attack Iraq. So cooperation with the inspections would not remove the threat of an attack. The US and Britain were pressuring Blix to make new demands to Saddam like that scientists have to be interviewed by US and British intelligence services outside of Iraq.

    It is very similar to you being under a polici investigation for some crime. Then, if the police is simply looking to frame you for the crime rather than collect evidence to find the perpetrator, then cooperating is not a wise move.

    In Saddam's case, the prosecutor was also the jury and the judge and no appeal was possible. Also unlike the ordinary judicial system where you have the right to silence, in this case, not cooperating well would be an extra argument for a guilty verdict.

    Saddam's optimal strategy would then be to cooperate a bit to gain time to prepare for the war as much as possible.
  21. Jul 8, 2009 #20


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    1. Iraq definitely did have chemical weapons at the time of Gulf War I
    2. Iraq didn't use them
    3. I think they probably would have used them, even within their own borders, if the US invaded Iraq proper (a submarine crew is perfectly willing to sacrifice portions of their sub to flooding if it will save the overall submarine)
    4. Iraq having chemical weapons was either a deterent to invasion, or at least not a threat worth the cost of invasion
    5. The most valid reason for believing Iraq hadn't destroyed all of their chemical weapons was Iraq's fear of Iran. In a lot of ways, it would have been illogical for Iraq to comply. It would be hard to hide all traces of chemical weapons if Iraq had them, but complete, undisputable proof of destruction was withheld by Iraq. Real evidence was thin, even if one were predisposed to believe Hussein wouldn't dare comply.

    What changed between 1991, when an Iraq with chemical weapons actually invaded a neighboring country and 2003, when a militarily crippled Iraq lacked the ability to invade a foreign country? Why was the threat in 2003 worth an invasion while the threat in 1991 wasn't?

    The threat in 2003 was less. On the other hand, in 1991, Hussein had the Kurds and Shiites under complete control. At least part of the sanctions, especially the no-fly zones, were to weaken Iraq's ability to control the opposing ethnic groups in his country. While the threat in 2003 was less, the opportunity for change was greater.

    The problem with that idea is the US was running the risk of starting an ethnic civil war that wouldn't end for decades (in fact, being bogged down in a never-ending civil war was a little more frightening than Iraq's chemical weapons, even in 1991 - or, alternatively, the fear that civil war would create such chaos that Iran could invade at will).

    I don't think the threat of chemical weapons played a big part at all. Same risk as in 1991 (never-ending civil war), but at least a better opportunity for a positive outcome than in 1991.

    Did I mention the risk of never-ending civil war? Over 120 civil wars in the world since the end of WWII, and South Africa, Mozambique, and (possibly) Guatemala are the only three that were resolved by opposing groups sharing power*. All the rest were resolved by one group defeating the other militarily or weren't resolved at all (50+ year civil war in Columbia, 60+ year civil war in regions of India, cease fire in Bosnia, cease fire in Korea, etc).

    That was a huge risk!

    * - To be considered over, generally 5 years without fighting is arbitrarily set as meaning the civil war is really over. Technically, using that guideline, 6 civil wars were ended through peaceful power sharing. Unfortunately, three of those resolved "successfully" were Lebanon, Sudan, and Zimbabwe - since fighting stopped for over five years, the resumption of fighting was considered a new civil war instead of a continuation of the old.
  22. Jul 8, 2009 #21


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    Some googling will show you the above is trivially wrong. DF was in December of '98, months after UNSCOM left; it was the Jan "decision of Iraq ... to cease cooperation with the UNSCOM" [SC quote] that prompted DF. The US did not need any further permission, it was granted under 1154. It is clear that the US/UK wanted the Bathists gone; their mass murders stopped, their fiddling with WMD acquisitions permanently stopped, their invasions of other countries stopped. It is clear that for years the US/UK thought this might be done by internal uprisings; the last thing they wanted was to have invade Iraq to accomplish this.
  23. Jul 8, 2009 #22

  24. Jul 8, 2009 #23

  25. Jul 8, 2009 #24


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    That's Wikipedia Count which anyone could have written including you.
  26. Jul 8, 2009 #25
    Yes, but then there are references to reliable sources in square brackets.
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