Okay, so you already knew that. But if you needed more evidence, there’s this gem in the Des Moines Register:

The relatively quick fall of Baghdad shows that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was a “paper tiger” rather than a major threat to world peace, Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa said Thursday.

“What we were told and what you saw in the press last fall and earlier this year is that he had a massive war machine,” said Harkin, the most outspoken critic of the war in Iraq among members of the Iowa congressional delegation.

“It looks now like this was just a Third World country – there were people fighting with tennis shoes on, on the Iraqi side,” Harkin told reporters. “I don’t know what else we’re going to find, but they didn’t fly even one airplane in the air. They had almost nothing.

“So if they were that weak, where we could just roll over them like that, tell me again how he was such a big threat in the past?” the senator added.

Nobody ever said Saddam had a great conventional force and was going to come invade us. The problem was the possession of WMD, the intent to use same, and the intent coupled with demonstrated ability to acquire more of same to include nucs. The whole point of preemption was to take him on at a time and place of our choosing rather than wait for him to attack us at a time and place of his choosing. Or did I miss something?

(Hat tip: Stephen Green)

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Clio says:

    Wow! It strikes me that this is the great danger with the US military being TOO good, especially the rather secretive sp.ops, whose efforts will possibly never be revealed in their entirety. Damn fools like Harkin will be able to get away with this sort of crap. Perhaps he could get a nighttime visit from a few Rangers who would demonstrate the skills with which they undermined the “paper tiger’s” police state. Til then I suppose we have to just do like my 5 year old, cover our ears and shout “lalalalalala” at Harkin’s inane ravings.

  2. John Lemon says:

    And in 20/20 hindsight, we could have said the same thing about the USSR. The problem is that despite internal rot, a repressive dictator can still rule out of fear rather effectively and create a great many problems for those around him (and the world). When the “rule of fear” is pierced to reveal the inner rot, the whole thing comes down rather quick. A great read on this is Timur Kuran’s PRIVATE TRUTHS, PUBLIC LIES. He argues the public falsehood can be much stronger than the private truths, but when the public lie is revealed, there is a massive cascading effect. Judging this is 20/20 hindsight like Harkin does is simply stupid.