Josh Marshall thinks the chemical weapons may be coming soon.
Earlier this morning [CNN's Walt Rodgers] reported seeing many dead Iraqis that his armored column was leaving in its wake as it pushed ahead. According to Rodgers, they were all wearing gas masks -- if not actually donned than at least at their side. Presumably that means the Iraqis are prepared and ready to use chemicals at any moment.
The question that arises is basically a political one for the Iraqis. Once they use chemicals, if they do, they will not only lose a lot of ground in the propaganda war in the Arab world and even more in Europe, they will also confirm a lot of the rationale for American action. So, for them, it must be a difficult calculation. If they have hopes of dragging this out in a guerrilla war or some urban fighting then you'd expect they wouldn't do it -- it would be counterproductive, since they believe they have some hope of eventually wearing America down and turning world opinion further against us. On the other hand, if they think they're on the verge of complete collapse -- which looks like a distinct possibility -- then they may be in 'go down in blaze of glory' mode.
If this happens, there'll be a lot of pro-war schadenfreude. Those of us who opposed the war will be expected to hang our heads in shame. But part of the reason we opposed the war is that we felt there'd be no use of chem or bio weapons as long as Saddam was boxed in.
Saddam's Iraq always seemed like a hostage situation to me. The SWAT team surrounds the bank where the robber is threatening to kill all the customers. When does the hostage team go in? When it seems that the risk of hanging back is greater than the risk of going in. No one says that the cops are "pro bank robbery" or "pro hostage taking" because they try to talk their way through the standoff.
Yes, hostage teams frequently take action. But what if it seemed clear that a stateside hostage taker had biotoxins or chemicals that might be unleashed into the surrounding area? Wouldn't a typical police force want to do a lot more talking?
If Iraq uses WMDs, 99 out of 100 people will say it proved the war was justified. I think I'll still be a holdout.