January 16, 2003

Where Are Those Damn Smoking

Where Are Those Damn Smoking Guns in Iraq?

Those slippery Iraqis just won't give up their goods. It's been an entertaining game, with the U.S. insisting Iraq is hiding weapons of mass destruction and Iraq insisting it does not. I know I've been laughing hysterically. Nothing prompts a good belly chuckle better than the thought of thousands of people dying with the release of chemical and biological agents.

But, really, I think the U.N. is going about their search all wrong. I mean, here they should be looking for weapons of mass destruction, but instead they're apparently searching for smoking guns. I mean, come on guys, keep your eyes on the ball.

I'm referring, of course, to this recent MSNBC.com article that reports empty warheads designed to carry chemical agents were found south of Baghdad. That, in itself, is pretty newsworthy. After all, if Iraq isn't developing chemical or biological weapons, then why do they need warheads designed to carry them?

What I found comical was this excerpt:

While the artillery rockets are evidence of an Iraqi weapons program, they may not amount to a "smoking gun" unless some sort of chemical agent is also detected, said U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity. The White House has threatened to use military force against Iraq if it fails to disclose its banned weapons programs and disarm, but has said it does not necessarily need to find a "smoking gun" to justify an attack. U.S. allies are pressing for solid evidence that Iraq is developing banned weapons. One U.S. official said, however, that the discovery did constitute a "smoldering gun."

So, there you have it. While the world waits, holding its breath in anticipation of an almost certain Gulf War II, U.S. officials are debating whether inspectors are finding smoking guns or smoldering guns. Hell, as long as they're making distinctions, maybe they could start rating Iraqi finds in terms of gun models.

REPORTER: Could you tell us what the recent discovery in Iraq of warheads designed to carry chemical weapons means for the impending war in the Gulf?

ARI FLEISCHER: Well, up until now, we've been operating under the belief that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, which pretty much amounts to an unsmoking .38 Special. Now, if the .38 Special were smoking, we'd be talking about the deployment of an additional 8,000 troops. Now, today, inspectors discovered the specially designed warheads, which shouldn't be in Iraq. Really, it's pretty much like finding an AK-47 with a flash suppresor and retractable stock. Again, it's not necessarily a smoking AK-47, but the barrel is perhaps a tad warm, and there may be powder residue, but that will take further inspecting.

REPORTER: There's a worldwide opinion that the U.S. shouldn't act unless it finds evidence amounting to the discovery of a .50 caliber Barrett sniper rifle. Would you care to comment on that?

ARI FLEISCHER: Well, it would still have to be a smoking sniper rifle, although a smoldering one may necessitate military intervention.

REPORTER: What happens if inspectors find a nuclear warhead?

ARI FLEISCHER: Again, it would depend on whether the warhead is smoking or not. . . hey, wait a minute. That was a trick question.

Here's my gripe. Maybe it's because the media or U.S. officials just don't believe the average American can wrap their mind around the concept of weapons of mass destruction, or maybe it's just because the terms smoking gun and smoldering gun just make for more dramatic narrative. Whatever the case, it does the reader a disservice by boiling the news down to unnecessary analogies.

We're on the verge of a war, a war that, arguably justifiable, stands to drastically change the world as we know it, for better or for worse. Given that, don't cheapen its importance by grasping for a meaningless analogy. I, for one, can understand the importance of finding warheads designed to carry chemical payloads. That's pretty self-explanatory.

And it doesn't have to be smoking.

Posted by Ryan at January 16, 2003 09:18 PM

Party Pocker - Poker

Posted by: Party Pocker at October 19, 2004 04:04 AM
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