Please. So if back in the 80's, Private Abdullah goes and says "We'll bury these shells here and be able to use them later when the Iranians come near our position", digs a hole, buries some mortar shells and that night is killed in an ambush with his fellow soldiers, that means Iraq is willfully hiding weapons of mass destruction? Or it means that Iraq is being negligent in their handling of chemical weapons?
More the latter then the former, but yes ( hehe ). Why the hell is "Private Abdullah" in charge of handing expensive chemical warheads? Especially to the point of being the sole person in charge of deciding where they are stored, with no records involved and no accounting of the weapons. Those are the sorts of weapons that most countries keep very carefully locked up, and if for some reason were to need/want to use them, would have serious controls on their use.
That's one of the reasons why
the UN resolutions were passed. If we are to believe the "Private Abdullah" scenario, then that's probably the best argument for how those weapons could easily end up in terrorist hands that I've yet heard. I'm sure Private Abdullah knows he can sell those weapons for big cash on the black market. If the regime has no controls for tracking their chem/bio weapons, then how the hell are we to expec that they *aren't* going to end up in some random persons hands. Clearly, if they can be buried in the sand and "lost" for 15-20 years, they can also be buried in the sand, and dug up a few months later when a sale is made. I don't think it's hard to draw a nice dotted line here...
If the "Private Abdullah" schenario is not what's going on, then what is? Was this their method of storage and disposal of these weapons and materials? Yet more violations. Yet more reasons for concern. And it begs the next question: If these weren't "lost", then what were they? And why weren't they recorded and tallied as the UN required? Where are the "real" records then?
That's the whole point here. They are either keeping good track of their stuff, or they aren't. If they are, then they very clearly deliberately lied and falsified records in order to keep their weapons hidden from the UN inspectors. If they didn't, then the exact conditions that the US (and other nations) are concerned about in terms of the likelyhood of these weapons falling into terrorist hands are substantiated. Either way, this find goes a long way towards justifying the actions taken in Iraq.
I suppose there's never been an abandoned cache of American weapons in any of our wars. If some kid in Vietnam finds a box of grenades hidden in the jungle where American forces died back in the 70's, that means the United States must be punished, right? What about those unexploded bits from cluster bombs?
There's a huge difference between ordinance "lost" in a battle area, and ordinance buried a hundred miles away from where the combat was happening. There's also an issue of what country the weapons were found in. The same regime has been in control of Iraq (and the area where the weapons were found) for the entire time period in question. This isn't a case of one military leaving unexploded stuff around when they were forced out of an area. This stuff wasn't "lost" on accident. It was "lost" on purpose. The only question is "why?". And even then, as I detailed above, it doesn't really matter.
The only thing the shells prove right now is that Iraq had a chemical weapons program in the 80's (provided the liquid proves to be a blister agent). That's hardly earth shattering news. Anything beyond that is guesswork until further evidence comes out.
It says that they had a weapons program (which we knew). It also says that they either kept horrible records of the wherabouts of said weapons, or they deliberately concealed/destroyed such records in violation of the UN resolutions. Either one justifies the action taken in Iraq. More importantly, it justifies them for the exact reasons given. Either scenario leads us to either Iraq desiring to hide their weapons from the UN, or a likelyhood of such weapons falling into random (terrorist) hands, or both. While this isn't a huge smoking gun, it's more then we've found to date.