Thursday, October 28, 2004

And the winner is...

The stupidest issue of the 2004 presidential race is... 380 tons of explosives!

It isn't that it isn't a newsworthy story; it is. They were U.N.-tagged materials, they can be used to trigger nukes, and there's speculation that the pre-war Russian convoy was spiriting them away which, if true, has very newsworthy implications. Iraq is a situation that explosives have been playing a large role in, but there's been no suggestion that these explosives were even there when we arrived in April. What are the odds that I.E.D.'s would be getting cobbled together with materials salvaged from mortar and artillery shells if the insurgents had 380 tons of some of the most powerful explosives known available?

It isn't that hundreds of tons of missing explosives isn't significant; they are. The damage potential of hundreds of tons of RDX, HDX, and PETN is enormous. However, when some estimates place the tonnage of other unaccounted-for conventional munitions in the hundreds of thousands of tons, even 380 tons of these explosives shrinks dramatically in perspective. The nuclear component potential of the materials, in my estimation, is little more than a scare point for the article. I'm not uncomfortable assuming that anyone who has the technology to put such materials to use had little trouble aquiring them already.

It isn't even that it's unreasonable to expect that someone would know more about it than anyone appears to; that's a perfectly reasonable expectation. These materials were tagged roughly a decade ago, the IAEA had eyes on the materials as recently as January 2003, and visited the site in March. I would think that in the 18 months since the country fell, there would have been somebody making an effort to match up IAEA's records with sites and actual inventory. If the materials had been known to be missing, how come no one had yet made an effort to determine when they went missing?

No, this is stupid because it's being called a "defining issue" of this race and it's not even a presidential matter in the first place. If these materials disappeared after we took control of that area -- and it would be nice if John Kerry appeared to even realize that an 'if' is involved -- that's a mistake much farther down the command chain than the oval office.

The public education we deliver has been floundering for decades, the next four years of the war on terror will shape foreign affairs for decades to come, we have substantive matters to consider in energy policy, tort reform, health care, foreign policy, and the list goes on - with all of that to weigh, the race is supposed to be defined by a mistake that may not have even happened, and didn't happen at the white house if it did happen?

"Stupidest issue of 2004." Let's talk about something that matters. Oh, and a fond "go screw yourselves" to CBS & the NYT.


Blogger timh said...

Doug,don't you get the feeling that Kerry was in on this from the start? I liken this to Kerry throwing a "Hail Mary" pass in the closing seconds of the election. Alas, the pass falls incomplete. If Kerry happens to stumble into the presidency, his entire policies, or lack of, has passed before our very eyes.

12:53 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Not from the start I don't think, but it was odd that he was ready with attack speeches before the ink was dry.

6:46 AM  

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