[lit-ideas] Re: Iraq WMD Disclosure

  • From: John Wager <john.wager1@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2006 16:32:03 -0500

Eric Yost wrote:

Political football over the disclosure of finding lots of pre-91 Chemical and Nerve Gas Agents. Iraq did have a whole bunch of stuff that could be sold on the black market. That hardly matters now, does it? Unless the insurgency or al-Qaeda finds and uses them.

I would not call 500 155mm artillery shells "lots" of chemical or nerve agents. A 155 mm howitzer shell can indeed be a useful IED; this is what lots of insurgency bombs are made from, because there are probably thousands of shells lying around Iraq. (I seem to remember one news account of traces of Sarin being found at the site of one IED explosion, so perhaps the insurgents have already tried to use one of these shells.) When you measure how many shells of all calibers were in the Iraqi inventory, 500 shells is not a big number--probably 1/10th the amount needed to pack into a long-range missle.

The mustard gas would probably still be nasty, but not nearly as much as it was 15 years ago. The sarin gas might not be nasty enough to even register on somebody's CBR equipment; we may have been attacked on the roads with sarin shells and just not noticed it. Sarin degrades quite rapidly.

As far as selling the stuff on the black market: I've bought stuff on Ebay that was not quite what was advertized, either. In fact, I think the U.S. gov't should probably collect all the useless sarin shells and sell them to terrorists around the world; it would mean the terrorists would be paying for part of their defeat, and would give them something that they THOUGHT they could use but which they really couldn't.

If we had spent as much effort getting bin Laden as we spent tracking down 500 rounds of useless sarin shells, we might be a lot more secure.

"Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence and ignorance." -------------------------------------------------
John Wager john.wager1@xxxxxxxxxxx
Lisle, IL, USA

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