First published in The Arab Weekly
Although part of what’s happening in Iraq is eerily reminiscent of the events leading up to the 2003 US invasion, the subsequent occupation of the country and the sectarian divisions that followed, the threat itself has evolved into a more frightful enemy with a far deadlier arsenal.
Indeed, a number of intelligence officials have shown great concern at the possibility that the Islamic State (ISIS) may be in possession of elements that would allow it to go nuclear.
Of course, at this point, this all seems to be guesswork as nobody really knows what’s going on in the regions controlled by ISIS.
Is the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) true?
The “other” Axis of Evil — George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, respectively former US president, vice-president and secretary of Defense — proved that if you inject the right doses of fear among the populace, it will give you the right to get away with murder — quite literally.
In fact, Iraq Body Count, a non-profit organisation that has been keeping meticulous records of violent deaths in Iraq since the start of the US invasion, has recorded the deaths of 219,000. Add to that 6,900, the number of US service personnel.
Members of the George W. Bush administration took every opportunity to feed the monster and raise the level of hype and fear to obtain a green light for the project. Those included the presentation at the UN Security Council by then secretary of State Colin Powell and the blind support offered to the Bush administration by then British prime minister Tony Blair.
There was much talk then, as there is now, of “dirty” bombs and how easy it could be for the Iraqi leadership of the time to target any city in the world. All they needed was an old suitcase and an airline ticket. They had no need for perfected delivery rockets or missiles. So all this talk about Iran having the capability… Yeah, but that’s another story altogether.
Hold on a minute. The whole concept behind the US invasion of Iraq, so we were told, was to prevent Saddam Hussein from using weapons of mass destruction. And now we are back where we started, only with a fairly large disadvantage.
If memory serves well, there were hundreds of UN special inspectors running up and down the country, chased by CNN, looking practically in Saddam’s closets, under his bed and digging up trenches hither and yonder? And they came up with zilch, nada, rien, nothing.
Now we are being told that the newest threat to the region comes from those very same WMDs.
Either they think we are downright idiotic and that we will buy into the Weapons of Mass Destruction Ploy, Part Two, or we are idiots for buying into the Weapons of Mass Destruction Ploy, Part Two.
This is somewhat confusing at best, either there were WMDs or there weren’t. If there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, then why did the Americans not find any and if there weren’t any then where is ISIS getting them from?
Several Western intelligence and some high-ranking members of the armed forces fear that ISIS is in possession of enough radioactive material to put together at least one dirty bomb.
For the benefit of readers who might not be up to par on their terrorism lexicon, a dirty bomb is nuclear waste particles wrapped around conventional explosives. The immediate result is an explosion that leaves the site with nuclear contamination for decades. If such a bomb were placed in Manhattan, for example, it would contaminate large portions of the island, rendering it uninhabitable.
The one certainty this time around is there is no need to convince anyone about the need to remove ISIS as a threat.