Or, more likely, Saddam received bad intelligence. Bill Hobbs links to an article by David Warren and gives some analysis of his own. The gist of Mr. Warren's article is that Saddam Hussein didn't know that he didn't have WMD, and that his own scientists were lying to him and stealing the money he gave them to build weapons. That seems perfectly reasonable to me, and many suspected that might be the case.
Bill Hobbs then hypothesizes:
Imagine if the truth had become known in time to save Saddam. For one, the regime's rape rooms and torture prisons would still be in use and its mass graves would still be filling with more bodies of men, women and children. That much we know. The war saved hundreds of thousands of Iraqis' lives.Personally, I don't think the possibility of Saddam possessing WMD was the most significant factor in the US's decision to go to war. It may have been the most public part of the debate, but Saddam's connection to and support for terrorism was more important. Not to even mention his continuing refusal to abide by Gulf War cease-fire arrangements. The WMD theory was a convenient focal point for the debate, but I'm pretty confident that we would have toppled his regime regardless.
Mr. Hobbs then poses the following scenario:
Now, imagine what might have happened had we not gone to war, and still believed Saddam had WMD and Saddam, deluded into believing he had WMD, threatened to use them against Israel. I don't mean an idle threat - I mean an ultimatum, with a date certain. What if Saddam had said, "If the Jews do not leave the occupied terroritories by Sept. 1, I'll nuke Tel Aviv." I suspect on August 31, Israel would destroy Baghdad.Saddam could have certainly used his WMD to threaten his neighbors (were he to ever admit having them), but no one threatens to use nukes like that. Making the threat to use nuclear weapons is equivalent to actually using them, and invites an immediate nuclear response. If anyone made such a threat against the United States, they'd be vaporized within hours (or less, if we had missiles targetted at them already, as we do with all other known nuclear powers). The point of such a policy is to prevent the type of nuclear blackmail Mr. Hobbs describes, and I imagine Israel would respond similarly.