This is why Matthew Yglesias will end up going places- he refuses to deny the obvious, whereas others in his ideological realm continue to spin, spin, spin. I’ll let Matthew speak for himself:
If Saddam woke up one morning, had a sudden change of heart, and decided to abandon his WMD programs because he was all the sudden a good guy, then of course it would be absurd for us to invade. That, however, is not going to happen. Insofar as Saddam might make concessions to the UN, he’d be doing it because he felt threatened by American policy and was trying to save his ass. Thus he might really open up to the inspectors and let his entire program get destroyed. And then the inspectors would leave. And the US troops built up in the Gulf would leave. And the sanctions on Iraq would be lifted. And the attention of the world community would drift elsewhere.
And then Saddam would start his program up again.
And then some hawkish American president would start making noises about war again. And folks would say that war must be the last resort. And that the US has to proceed multilaterally. And so we would go to the UN again. And there’d be a new resolution. And Saddam would obstruct the new inspections team. And we’d threaten to go to war. And some would call to give the inspectors more time. And there’d be talk of a new resolution. And talk about how the president was determined to have a war one way or another.
And thus the cycle would proceed, over and over again until either Saddam dies (but maybe not even then if he just hands off power to a successor) or else without the inspections and the no-fly zones Saddam builds a nuke before US intelligence can figure out what he’s up to.