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Bush wins second debate, cites Duelfer report

By Carol Devine-Molin
web posted October 11, 2004

"So I tried diplomacy, I went to the United Nations. But as we learned in the same report I quoted, Saddam Hussein was gaming the oil-for-food program to get rid of sanctions. He was trying to get rid of sanctions for a reason: He wanted to restart his weapons programs."

--- President George W. Bush, Second Presidential Debate

US President George W. Bush (L) and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerryface off in a 90-minute town-hall style debate rematch at Washington University in St. Louis
US President George W. Bush (L) and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerryface off in a 90-minute town-hall style debate rematch at Washington University in St. Louis

For President Bush, it was a clear-cut victory over Senator John Kerry at the second presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri on October 8. The president cited the Duelfer report (key findings here and parts 1, 2 and 3 -- PDF format), which exposed the true nature of Saddam Hussein's WMD activities and Kerry's fundamental misunderstanding of the issue. Kerry is fond of reiterating that there were no WMDs found in Iraq, and thus no tangible threat. No threat? Well after reading the Duelfer report, Senator Kerry is going to have to modify his remarks if he intends to be honest with the American people. In fact, the Duelfer report indicates that there were Iraqi WMD programs on hold, but poised to be reactivated.

As noted by John Kerry in the first presidential debate, America must pass the "global test" in order to "prove to the world" that the US takes actions for "legitimate reasons". What is this obsession with America proving itself to the global community? This is absolutely appalling coming from a presidential candidate. The US doesn't have to "prove" anything to the rest of the world. First and foremost, a US president is obliged to protect the American people. Anything else, including statements to be disseminated to the rest of the world, is secondary in nature and must be in America's best interests. Americans should be asking themselves whether John Kerry is a presidential candidate who really respects our national sovereignty, or is prepared to blithely maneuver it aside to genuflect before the altar of the UN and international consensus.

That said, Senator Kerry continued to underscore the importance of international relations during the second debate: In order to effectively tackle the problems associated with Saddam Hussein, it was Kerry's contention that President Bush was required to form "alliances" and engage in rapprochement with other nations. And, according to Kerry, Bush failed. Certainly, President Bush reached out to a variety of nations, but was consistently rebuffed by some (such as Germany, France and Russia). However, despite setbacks, Bush continued to make inroads in the global arena for the purpose of forming the coalitions that we now have in Afghanistan and Iraq. The truth of the matter is that John Kerry is bent on negativity, and refuses to acknowledge that the Bush administration was up against a no-win situation regarding nations that had been thoroughly compromised by the inducements of Saddam Hussein. And, yes, I'm talking bribery. In essence, Saddam effectively thwarted the international process from properly working.

Moreover, Kerry's position has been that President Bush, as a general rule, bungles foreign policy. What claptrap! Never mind that Kerry's criticism is contradicted by the fact that we have an extremely adroit Secretary of State Colin Powell at the wheel of foreign policy, working in tandem with a stellar group of national security and foreign policy bigwigs including NSA Condoleezza Rice, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, etc. It's also vital to remember that the US managed to put together a 30-nation coalition in Iraq and a 40-nation coalition in Afghanistan, which are notable feats. Not surprisingly, during this coalition-building phase, the leadership at the UN, along with "old Europe" and Russia were particularly non-responsive, even hostile at times, to US efforts to hold Saddam Hussein's feet to the fire and to ultimately oust him from power. Now the primary reason for all this is indisputable.

Despite Saddam's consistent failures to abide by UN sanctions and fully cooperate with weapons inspections, Saddam's agenda was enabled by a plethora of co-conspirators willing to hop on the Saddam gravy train and fleece the UN Oil-for-Food program. The Oil-for-Food program was supposed to feed the starving Iraqis affected by sanctions, acting as a counterbalance to sanctions. Instead the Iraqi people continued to suffer while Saddam Hussein utilized the program to enrich himself and his pals. For Saddam Hussein and his sons, the program was a cash cow for funding extravagance, weaponry and terrorism. Moreover, if the Bush administration hadn't exhibited significant leadership and resolve, the job of toppling Saddam and transforming Iraq would never have gotten underway.

Unfortunately for John Kerry, he has refused to recognize this pivotal story that's really been percolating in the news for quite some time, and which has now been definitively corroborated by the new Duelfer report. Saddam Hussein was systematically benefiting from kickbacks on illicit oil deals, and bribing international players, high-level players, at the UN and in countries throughout the world. Saddam and his gang were acting more like a crime syndicate than national leaders. We can now say with confidence that Saddam Hussein rigged the UN process and was able to get away with breaching seventeen UN resolutions and gaming weapons inspections for quite a while. However, his manipulations finally came to an end when the US-led coalition invaded Iraq.

The bottom line is this: The US was up against a wily dictator, Saddam Hussein, who was determined to maintain power in Iraq, circumvent the sanctions, and reconstitute WMD programs when the time was right. It was a "Soprano's scheme" for sure, and justice was not being served until, of course, President Bush had enough of Saddam's evil shenanigans. Bush is absolutely right in noting that Saddam Hussein retained the knowledge, the materials, the means and the intent to produce weapons of mass destruction, and he could have passed this knowledge to our terrorist enemies. Clearly, preemptive action by the US was warranted.

This is precisely what former arms inspector David Kay stated before the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this year. He thought Saddam Hussein's regime turned out to be "even more dangerous than we thought". Kay further testified:" Well, it's not that they (the Iraqis) didn't have a weapons program. It is that they had a weapons program but it was a program activity designed to allow future production at some time. And that the missile program was actually moving ahead." As to the Iraqi weapons-infrastructure, Kay stated: "So they kept the scientists and they kept the technology, but they came to what I think is a fair conclusion. Why keep the stockpiles of weapons that are vulnerable to inspectors when you've lost your delivery capability? Wait till you have your delivery capability, and then it's a relatively short order."

Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.

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