Not finding WMD may have pushed Lybia and Iran to agree

Christopher Hitchins:

...

"The hawks are quite plainly right to say that this sudden tribute by vice to virtue is a direct consequence of Operation Iraqi Freedom. So is the new readiness by the mullahs of Iran to accept international inspections. It might even be true to say that the supposed failure to find WMDs in Iraq is a factor in this welcome surrender. I know I am having it both ways here because I actually believe that Saddam Hussein was concealing illegal weapons and was trying to buy them off the shelf from Kim Jong-il, but look at it from the point of view of a rattled and ramshackle despotism like the Libyan or Iranian one. (Wow�look what happened to Saddam when he was accused of fooling around with weapons and inspections and U.N. resolutions. And we know that we do have undeclared stocks. Is it worth the risk?) One can only be impressed at this triumph of reasoning over ideology. If riff-raff like this can be so convinced of our resolve, then we really must make sure that our resolve is as steely as they think it is.

"There's certainly an element of time-buying and calculation in both cases, but the compromise over WMD can, if properly handled, act as a curtain-raiser for regime change in both societies. Iranians and Libyans are not fools, and they have increasing access to non-state media. They know that their boastful and pious leaders have been cringing and conceding. In a more than subliminal way, this presages the end of governments that are bankrupt in other ways as well. In the Middle East perhaps more than in any other region at present, people are acutely sensitive to which is the winning and which is the losing side. The mullahs have run Iran into the ground over two decades, and Qaddafi has been in power since I was an undergraduate. Their rule is condemned by actuarial calculations as well as by moral and political ones, and it's now quite possible to envisage a future without them. The tipping point in all this is, and has been, and will be seen to have been, the liberation of Iraq."

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