File Photo: U.S. Marines from the Marine 1st Division take down a Saddam Hussein statue April 9, 2003 in Baghdad, Iraq.
Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images, File

Why some on the right can’t let go of the WMD argument

Donald Trump was booed quite a bit during Saturday night’s Republican debate, but perhaps no comment drew louder jeers from the audience than Trump commenting on the war in Iraq and the WMD that didn’t exist.
 
Officials in the Bush/Cheney administration, the candidate argued, “said there were weapons of mass destruction, there were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction.”
 
And while this complaint had the benefit of accuracy, it was right around this time when Patrick Ruffini, a member of the Bush/Cheney re-election team, said on Twitter, “The thing is, there were WMDs.”
 
I think he was serious.
 
All of this came just a few days after Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich appeared on Sean Hannity’s radio show. Media Matters published a partial transcript:
KASICH: Part of the problem was we got in the middle of a civil war [in Iraq] because we thought Saddam had weapons of mass destruction–
 
HANNITY: I still think he did.
 
KASICH: Pardon?
 
HANNITY: I still think he did. I think he got them out in the lead up to the war. And I think he brought them to Syria.
I don’t think the host was kidding, either.
 
About once a year some Republicans raise this flag, reminding the political world that, in case anyone’s forgetting, they’re still convinced the discredited WMD claims are true. And as we discussed the last time this came up, there’s nothing admirable about this dedication to a falsehood. It’s just sad.
 
To reiterate some of the points from our previous coverage, I can appreciate why the right is still a little sensitive on this. A Republican president lied the nation into a disastrous war, the consequences of which we’re still struggling to address, based in large part on weapons stockpiles that didn’t exist. That conservatives are still searching for some kind of evidence to justify the catastrophic Bush/Cheney failure isn’t too surprising.
 
But it’s still wrong. Saddam had a chemical-weapons program, but it was inactive and several years old by the time the Bush/Cheney era began. When the Republican administration insisted that Saddam had an active WMD program that Iraq might use to attack the West and/or share with al Qaeda, all of those arguments were plainly untrue.
 
The WMD were never found because they didn’t exist. This is no longer open to debate. Far-right figures on the fringes of American politics – including the occasional U.S. senator – occasionally suggest the non-existent weapons were secretly there, but these claims were debunked many years ago. Even Bush administration officials themselves long ago abandoned this nonsense.
 
Their allies really ought to do the same.
 
 

Iraq and WMD

Why some on the right can't let go of the WMD argument