The "Iraq is the size of California" canard

Eli Stephens elishastephens at hotmail.com
Thu May 29 16:20:55 MDT 2003


"Iraq is the size of California" so it's understandable that WMDs haven't
been found yet, say Bush, Rumsfeld, Fleischer, and the rest of Liars, Inc.
No columnists seem to have taken on this canard yet, so I thought I'd take
on the task:

1) California IS a big state, but a lot of it consists of forests,
mountains, and deserts. Even more than California, a lot of Iraq is
unpopulated, trackless land. You don't carry "10,000 liters of anthrax, up
to 6,500 chemical munitions; at least 80 tons of mustard gas, sarin,
botulinum toxin and 'a host of other biological poisons'" (Tony Blair's
list) in your backpack into the wilderness and bury them in the ground in a
hole you dig with your hands. If you really WERE hiding this amount of
material, you would need trucks, and plenty of them, and if you need trucks
you need roads and actual destinations.

2) Unlike (?) California, every inch of Iraq has been under scrutiny from
space. It is literally impossible that the Iraqis could have dug a huge hole
in the middle of the desert, constructed some sort of concrete underground
structure to house the weapons, driven a bunch of trucks up to it, unloaded
the weapons, and then covered the whole structure over with sand so that it
looks like the rest of the desert.

Putting points 1 and 2 together, it should be obvious that the size of Iraq
doesn't have the slightest bearing on the situation. Only cities, and large
warehouses or existing underground bunkers in them, are possible hiding
places for WMDs.

3) If weapons were hidden, or destroyed just before the war, someone did it.
Contrary to the language used by Rumsfeld, if weapons were destroyed, it
wasn't done by "Saddam" but by soldiers and, given the amount of material
allegedly destroyed, hundreds or even thousands of them. The US continues to
say that interrogation of high-level officials and scientists will provide
the answers. But that's wrong. Two or three high-level officials who were
complicit in producing, hiding, and then destroying WMDs would have
continuing reason to lie about it lest they admit to war crimes. But
hundreds or thousands of soldiers or workers who carried out the actual
tasks would not only have no reason to lie, but, given the rewards the US is
undoubtedly promising, would have every reason to come forward with the
evidence. None has.

4) At least some on the right have already suggested that the weapons were
hidden or destroyed just before the war, and then the people who did it were
killed so that no actual witnesses remain. A convenient theory, but it
doesn't hold up. As applied to destroying weapons, it makes no sense
whatsoever. As applied to hiding them, it might, except again for the
numbers. Conspiracy theorists might propose that Lee Harvey Oswald was paid
to kill Kennedy, and then Jack Ruby was paid to kill Oswald to keep Oswald
from talking. I don't subscribe to that theory, but it certainly is
possible. However here in Iraq we would be talking about HUNDREDS or
THOUSANDS of Lee Harvey Oswalds who did the deed (hiding or destroying
weapons), which would then require TENS or HUNDREDS of Jack Rubys to kill
them, all of this happening without anyone left who could or would come
forward to tell the tale. It's simply preposterous.

All in all, I think it's safe to say that the latest claims are, even more
than the original claims of WMDs themselves, complete and utter nonsense.

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