Have we found any "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq? There seems to be a lot of disagreement on that question. People who are for the war tend to say we have; people who are against it tend to say there we have not. Still, it's a factual question; there can't be that much disagreement on facts, can there?
It turns out that the disagreement isn't about the facts. Everyone seems to agree that we've found a little over 500 old chemical weapon shells left over in various places from before the 1991 Gulf War. Those are the facts.
No, the disagreement is about definitions. Not the definition of "weapons of mass destruction" - oh no, everyone agrees that it's perfectly appropriate to put World War I era mustard gas in the same category as modern hydrogen bombs that can destroy a city at a time - not about that. It's about the definition of the word "any".
You see, some people read big name newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post. These people have been reading headlines like "Iraqi Work Toward A-Bomb Reported" and "Iraq Suspected of Secret Germ War Effort" since 1998, when Iraq first threw out the U.N. inspectors and President Clinton responded by bombing Iraqi chemical weapon plants. When we finally invaded, these people expected to find hundreds of thousands of freshly minted chemical and biological weapons, and maybe a few nuclear bombs just rolling off the assembly line. If that's what one is expecting, then a mere few hundred rusty old shells - perhaps not even in working condition - isn't "any" weapons of mass destruction.
On the other hand, there are people who don't bother to read newspapers. They wouldn't believe that stuff even if they did read it: as far as they're concerned, all the posturing about "weapons of mass destruction" is just a game played by politicians like Clinton and Bush when they decide they want to use the shiny new bombers and tanks that Santa Claus - er, Congress - gave them money for in the latest defense appropriations bill. As far as they're concerned, it's never been proven that Iraq had chemical weapons even before 1991. They're expecting exactly nothing to be found. To them, it's a surprise when even one chemical weapon shell is found, even if the mustard gas inside is so stale it's not worth putting on a hot dog. To them, 500 of those shells isn't just "any" - it's a lot.
That's my theory about why there's still disagreement on this issue. Oh, and if you're like me, live under a rock, and know even less about current events than those folks who don't read newspapers, here are a few links.
Article regarding the 500 shells that have been found:
For us skeptics, the declassified letter:
A discussion of the prevalence of "WMD" related articles between 1998 and 2002:
Yes, Clinton really did celebrate his impeachment hearings by bombing Iraq:
And yes, Bush did actually invade Iraq: