Where are all the "Weapons of Mass Destruction"? Why haven't we found them? Why weren't they used in the war? Did they ever exist at all? These are the questions being asked today, now that the war is all but over. This page will address these questions and suggest some answers to them.
First, I have to take issue with the term "Weapons of Mass Destruction". This term represents a misrepresentation of the weapons in question. There is really only one "Weapon of Mass Destruction" and that is a nuclear weapon. BioChemical weapons do not destroy anything except life. It is important to note that these weapons are not actually military weapons, but are more "terrorist weapons" and are all but ineffective on the battlefield. The only way they can be effective is to be used in mass quantity and under ideal weather conditions. They dissipate rapidly and simply dilute and blow away if there is any wind or breeze rendering them almost harmless in small quantities. They could be effective if dispersed in a heavily populated, metropolitan area on a calm warm day with hundreds of people on the streets. Something like during an anti-war demonstration (grin).
There are two categories of BioChemical weapons. "Biological" weapons such as Anthrax, Smallpox, Botulin toxin, and Ebola virus are organic germ agents which take time to incubate in the body, then cause illness and potentially death. We may be seeing the effects of an accidential release of Biological weapons from a Chineese weapons plant now with the outbreak of "SARS".
"Chemical" weapons such as Serin, Ricin, VX and Mustard Gas act like poisons that immediately attack the skin, respiratory, and nervous systems, often causing immediate death. Saddam Hussein used Mustard Gas against the Iranians in the Iran-Iraq war which was effective against the advance of unprotected troops. He then used VX Gas against Kurdish civilians in their villages by spraying them from the air which killed thousands. The weather conditions were good that day and people were out in the streets.
Why didn't Saddam use these weapons in the war? Well, in fact he tried to do just that in the Gulf War with disastrous results to his own troops and to the region where they were deployed. Our air bombing destroyed most of them before they could be used by Iraqi troops and some of the agents were released, so the only people who were effected by them were Iraqis and some of our troops who went in on the ground after the air attacks. Those soldiers were exposed to remnants of the agents in bunkers and confined areas and are now suffering from what is being called "Gulf War Syndrome" which has not yet been officially linked to Iraq's BioChem weapons.
Information from captured Iraqi officials is now telling us that much of the BioChem weapons were destroyed just days before the war started. Why would they do that, you ask? Saddam and his top party leaders were not stupid. They knew that Coalition troops were protected from these agents with special clothing and masks so their use would have little effect on the war. What the use of them would do would be to expose Saddam as a liar to the Arab region after repeatedly insisting he didn't have them. He also knew that the Anti-American propaganda would be stimulated enormously and the primary justification for the war would be nullified if it couldn't be proven that they existed. This would have repercussions against America lasting long after the war. Saddam knew this tactic would be more valuable to his cause than actually using his WMD. He knew he could hide them from the UN inspectors but not from the US troops after his defeat. This is why it is so important that we do find them or proof that they, at least did exist up until the war began.
We have only scratched the surface in the search for WMD. There are literally thousands of known sites in Iraq where BioChemical weapons were developed and/or stored. Only less than 100 of these sites have been inspected so far. It's almost a certainty that eventually we will find some still existing WMD and the materials and equipment to manufacture them. The real danger is that because these weapons are ideal for terrorists use, that many of them may have already been sent out of the country and into the hands of terrorists. This is almost exactly what Saddam Hussein threatened just before the war. This scenario becomes more likely as more information is turning up regarding connections between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. We now have documentation of Saddam's BioChemical weapons programs, precursor chemicals and materials found, empty chemical warheads, and testimony from captured Iraqi officials. All that is missing now are the actual weapons if any are left.