Reply by Gode Davis to my comments on the possibility of war wit Iraq


(my original comments are on the file


You state that you were "struck" by "what seems to be" a total lack of
confidence in the president's leadership. I think that you and your friend
are very trusting and misinformed about the present situation
about the US and "regime change" in Iraq.

First of all, to say that Saddam Hussein has manipulated anybody in this
situation is nave, if not also extremely disingenuous. He is a dictator, a
thug, and a petty one at that, with a long history of being manipulated by
the much more strategically powerful US. He does not crucially influence
public opinion in the US or even in most Middle East nations in his
"neighborhood" - especially with economic sanctions imposed by the US and
Britain (primarily) so stringently in place. Almost daily bombings by US
forces in the "no-fly zones" and a nearly complete destruction of Iraq's
infrastructure since 1991 - reducing that country to an impoverished if not
Third World status - are other factors attesting to Saddam's vulnerability.
He is also the "wrong kind" of secular Muslim to many Arabs and considered a
pompous buffoon by many. Also the UN inspectors did not leave Iraq in 1998
merely because Saddam wasn't cooperating with inspectors. There were
well-founded charges of illicit spying by the US that helped to drive the
inspectors out.

You also point to "a major fallacy common in many anti-war efforts."
Although many protestors are nave about how choices about war and peace are
made by rulers, they are not always completely ignorant about the subtleties
involved as you imply. Conservatives who would never commit civil
disobedience can be just as nave - if not always about the same aspects of
the dilemma.

While our freedoms are predicated on a certain institutional stability, they
are also predicated in reality on actions taken by the leading institution -
in this case, by the US government responsible for enforcing and discharging
our freedoms. I would submit that many of our cherished freedoms have
already been gutted by US governmental actions taken since 1981 - and that
this process was accelerated by the events of September 11, 2001 and by the
Bush Administration's quite possibly opportunistic reaction to those tragic
events. It is certainly true that many protestors are reacting at some level
to restrictions on their freedoms that they perceive to be affecting the
quality of their citizenship in this country. I would agree with you,
however, that everything that our lives are based on is at risk now.

The next point that you make is simply erroneous. The greatest cache of
unsecured weapons of mass destruction is at the Tooele Army Depot in Utah,
near Grantsville Utah - not in Russia, Iraq, or anyplace else. There have
been numerous instances of theft of biological and chemical weapons from
this arsenal - at least 30 that I know of since early 2002 alone. When I
lived in Utah from 1976 to 1994, I was made aware of many other such
incidents - and usually the appropriate authorities covered these up if the
local media got wind of anything even potentially politically damaging.  If
some of these thefts have involved missing Weapons of Mass Destruction (a
euphemism that has become a catchall term - but that's another discussion),
it is my informed opinion that some may have gone to Iraq, but that many
other undocumented caches of such weapons have gone to such places as Shri
Lanka, Iran, Algeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Israel, North Korea, and
China. Most caches have been stolen from the US, or at least the means to
implement them. It is true that these weapons could be dangerous if the
"wrong hands" could get them back here to wreak havoc and to distribute
these ingredients properly to execute what I call a "mass kill." Might this
eventually happen? Possibly, especially if we make such acts a perceived
necessity and risk worth taking by our most efficient enemies. Bad foreign
policy and "pre-emptive strikes" against non-aggressor nations could
influence decision makers who would acquire the means, infrastructure, and
popular support to "do us in."

I think that the President, Colin Powell, Ms. Rice and Tony Blair are
probably wrong. I didn't come to this decision in a whimsical manner or
without a close inspection of the patterns involved that I've been seeing
for not just during the Bush Administration's tenure, but also for some
years now. While the evidence has long pointed to an obscene accumulation of
chemical and biological weapons within the US as we've gradually but
inexorably moved to a special operations military, there has seldom if ever
been any mention of such tidings to the American populace. Even in our
operations in at least a dozen operations, we have made liberal use of such
materials against civilian populations - setting ugly precedents (along with
an almost indiscriminate use of "anti-personnel" land mines). Upon other
occasions, these materials have been stolen or "leaked" to aggressors for
use in local or regional conflicts where we have a stake of some kind. Iraq
was just such a situation during the 1980s when we took their side against
Iran. While a few of those weapons might still survive, this is not at all
certain. Even if they do survive, there is little if any evidence that
Saddam would use these weapons against the US in an unprovoked terrorist
attack. It is virtually certain that Saddam has not acquired any nuclear
devices, let alone the means to disperse them. In fact, the major reason for
the "war" against Iraq - actually a slaughter as it would be over very
quickly with few US casualties - is to Americanize Iraq and create a "regime
change." If any other country but the US were to try this kind of
pre-emptive action - it would be bitterly opposed by the US. Mainly, we are
attempting to force this action because we can - an extremely dangerous

I would also argue against much "unpublished" evidence of substance that
would implicate Iraq in the anthrax attacks on US soil. If there were such
evidence, it would have been revealed by a Bush Administration eager to
substantiate its own often-inexplicable domestic actions. Much of the "dirty
bomb" program, as well as the Allison Graham interviews, were
unsubstantiated to any real degree - expecting the audience to take at face
value many spurious statements. You do state, to your credit, that the
President should make some of this information public. Read my lips - it won
't happen in your lifetime.

We are a careless people, and an apathetic public. To allow leaders of the
ilk that now occupy such positions of power is a calamity that may spell
doom - and will certainly spell increased levels of anxiety - for all
thoughtful Americans. With such people in power - and controlling the
largest caches of WMDs - nuclear, biological, and chemical - in world
history - we all have plenty to worry about - both from their actions - and
from the actions of our enemies who also possess such dangerous materials. I
agree that freedom requires vigilance - but also vigilance against ALL
despotic forces - including our own government - if it begins to behave
contrary to the self-interests of its own populace. We are more than a
collection of multi-national corporate empires. We are America. We should
not go to war - to creating a slaughter in this instance - because we can.

Copyright 2003 by Gode Davis and

reprinted with permission. All rights reserved, subject to reasonable fair use.


Mr. Davis can be reached at



Here are my original comments:

On Saturday March 1, 2003 the government announced the arrest of three major Al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan, and these include military operations chief Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, involved in planning the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, as the #3 man. .

I sent out a couple of strident emails to the GLIL list server, as follows: The Graham Allison interview on PBS is at The USA Today story on Feb 27 refers to other isotopes of uranium and other elements that previously had not been considered nuclear weapons material but usable in dirty bombs or maybe small crude nuclear devices. Strontium 90 could be one of the most dangerous dirty bomb wrappings.

Friends: While I watch the stock market and some of my retirement 401K tank as the world "hurries up and waits" for war, I am struck by what seems to be total lack of confidence in the president's leadership.

I think that both investors and some allies overseas have the impression that Saddam has manipulated the president into an overextended position where the U.S. must attack (to justify its domino theory) and risk the possibility of major domestic terrorist incidents and risk possible major breakdown of worldwide financial stability. This is like a situation in a chess game where the attacking player has been forced to gambit a pawn before being developed well enough to justify the sacrifice. The president is getting outplayed positionally.

Saddam can also take advantage of a major fallacy common in many anti-war efforts. Many protestors assume that peace or war is a simple ballot-box issue, and that decisions as to whether to go to war or spend money on social programs for the underprivileged can be made as simple choices.

It is not. Freedom cannot be taken for granted. This is even more true now as, for most of us, freedom is predicated on a certain institutional stability: that domestic law and order is maintained, that property rights are protected by law, that contracts will be honored. It is possible for multiple acts of terrorism, excited cleverly enough, to undermine all of this. That was demonstrated recently on the PBS special on dirty bombs and recent interviews with Allison Graham. Everything that our lives is based on is at risk now.

Of course, the main duty of the president and Congress (and U.N. Security Council) must be to do what is necessary to protect world peace and stability, not just to enforce a "domino theory." A little thought reminds us that the greatest caches of unsecured weapons of mass destruction in the world are two or  three places: the remnants of the former Soviet Union (including much of the present day Russian Federation), and Iraq.   North Korea, Iran, Pakistan and India may deserve to be on this list (esp. North Korea).

I think that the president, Colin Powell, Dr. Rice and Tony Blair are probably right. The world cannot afford to allow large caches of anthrax, radiological materials, weaponized smallpox, etc. to exist inside Iraq, and it now appears that they do.  Furthermore, there may well be unpublished evidence that Iraq did have something to do with the anthrax attacks in the fall of 2001 and that Saddam may be helping terrorists secure WMD's from the former Soviet Union through the black market. But if so, the president should make this public.

I don't know where this leaves us.  As a people, we have been careless, to allow ourselves to get into this mess.  One of the biggest problems has been underlying carelessness about the remains of the former Soviet Union, as well as a lack of coherent policy for handling extremely dangerous materials within this country. Possession of cesium chloride should not be treated like possession of marijuana, and the libertarians are right in a sense, that overzealous drug laws (the arrest of Dell Guy Ben Curtis) confuse the control of truly dangerous materials.

And I understand libertarian theories about our involvement with foreign affairs. We have a history of involvement overseas to promote legitimate business interests (oil) or even security interests (driving the Soviets out of Afghanistan), of supporting despotic leaders or figures who then "go bad" on us.  The over-dependence of the American consumer on oil is a factor. There is controversy over Saddam, whether he was just a tribal leader who invaded Kuwait in 1990 over an oil production dispute, of whether he is a true monster who has massacred his own people for decades. There is likewise some historical controversy over how we got into World War II and whether FDR manipulated Japan into attacking us because he needed war. This was discussed in a recent press release from Harry Browne.

The fact is, however, that we are stuck with our predicament now. None of us can feel comfortable about our own personal futures until the threat of WMD's is removed.

And then:

suspect my email yesterday seemed pretty strident to some. One thing that seems clear is that, if terrorists now have WMD's, they will in time use them in the U.S., Europe, or against vital interests (oil fields) to try to permanently disable the economic system, regardless of whether the go to war now. The safest course is to disarm Iraq by force is necessary, but with the full support of the U.N.  This does raise the risk of single actors (like the snipers last fall) of carrying out acts. The other mandatory part of a national security program is to reign in on all dangerous materials around the world and account for them. This was covered in USA Today. Iraq is just one part of this problem.

We could get into all kinds of deliberations about our "morality" as a free people that somehow exploits the rest of the world. The truth is somewhere in between. We have supported dictators, who later turn bad, for what seem at the time like legitimate business and security interests. These dictators then oppress their own people. 

The far Left believes that if we simply gave up all of our own weapons and spent money on "people, not weapons, not words" all problems would dissolve. This is just naive.  Again, freedom requires vigilance.

But I do believe that the president has allowed some very disturbing impressions to be left by the way he has managed his statements.  He sometimes makes it sound like we will go to war because we can.