TELEPHONE AND SADDAM'S...

TELEPHONE AND SADDAM'S TERRORISM. Based on a whole bunch of captured Iraqi documents, the Pentagon has assembled an Iraq Perspective Project report (PDF) on Saddam Hussein's regime which serves as the basis for this long article in Foreign Affairs on which Andrew Sullivan based this blog post concluding that "Those who sincerely marched against war in London in 2002 and 2003 were unwittingly marching to keep in power a regime planning to bomb and terrorize them."

It's hard to be 100 percent sure about this because I don't have the root document, but looking at the full IPP report, it seems to me that the section of the Foreign Affairs article Andrew's quoting is about the Fedayeen planning to mount terrorist operations in Europe if Iraq got attacked by Western forces, rather than Iraq planning to launch unprovoked terrorist attacks against European targets. The "planning to bomb and terrorize them" account, after all, doesn't make very much sense. Saddam, it's clear, didn't want the United States to invade Iraq and topple his regime. Stockpiling potential countermeasures, including trying to assemble a force capable of mounting retaliatory terrorist attacks, served that end. Launching an attack out of the blue would accomplish the precise reverse. Unfortunately, the IPP doesn't really discuss this ambiguity. That, in and of itself, tends to make me suspicious. It wouldn't, after all, be wildly out of character for the administration to declassify information in a selective manner to bolster its case for war while suppressing important details that cut in the other direction.

--Matthew Yglesias

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