380gate seems to be crumbling

Can this be for real?

I’m more than a little skeptical of Russian involvement, but I’d love to see pictures.

I’m much more willing to accept that the UN is l-y-i-n-g about the amount of explosives audited at one time.

I’m pretty sure that UN, CBS, and NYT attempts to directly affect an American presidential election should be horrifying to us all.

I’m 100% positive that 380 tons of explosives, even these kind of explosives, is not even a drop in the bucket. With all the millions of RPGs, artillery shells, and AK-47s lying around Iraq in ammo dumps, houses, schools, and mosques, I’m having trouble taking anyone really alarmed over this by this too seriously.

Anyone who has been following the campaign in Iraq knows that a lot of military sites and weapons caches have not been guarded sufficiently. And sites guarded by Iraqi forces are, of course, quite vulnerable to corruption of one kind or another. I do not mean to minimize the importance of these problems. I do mean to point out that hand-wringing over this particular incident, even if it’s true, is pointless. It’s a cheap political trick to play on those who rightly are concerned about the safety of our troops and the conduct of the war but don’t have a real understanding of weapons and warfare.

And if the Russians were really involved, I’ll be severely disappointed. Despite past differences and current problems in the big bear, I’ve been more than a little hopeful that we’d be standing on the same side of the line before this is all over.

I recall some Russian diplomat/adviser-types getting caught in the crossfire during the early days of the campaign in Iraq. I think they were heading for Syria, but I’m not really sure. Troubling.

Wizbang is covering the unravelling of this story.

UPDATE: Dean Esmay:

For some time now I’ve been of the belief that most of Saddam’s WMDs were probably moved to either Syria or Russia. I wanted to think Syria, because while we know the Russians were getting huge sums of money under the table from Saddam (hence their opposition to taking out his butcher-regime), I didn’t want to think the Russians had gone so far as to directly cover for Saddam and then lie about it for two years. Although I’ve never thought all that well of Vladimir Putin, I wanted to believe he and his government weren’t that treacherous.

He’s “wanted” to think the same things about the Russians I’ve “wanted” to think. Wishing real hard doesn’t make it so, though.

A close friend of mine who lived in Russia for several years explained the local reaction to the French ice skating judge like this (totally paraphrased from a conversation two years ago and if I’ve got it wrong please forgive me):

Everyone accepts cheating and lying as part of how government and the world in general works. Ripping people off and saying misleading things to get your way is just a standard way of life. The judge was wrong, but wrong for getting caught. Not for cheating. Cheating for pay or agreements for other cheating benefits are simply how everything everywhere works. If upping marks for Russian skaters would lead to better marks for French skaters from Russian judges later, it was the “right” thing to do.

He told me that most locals he had contact with (and he was a missionary) were simply mystified at world outrage to the scandal. They didn’t understand why anyone was surprised or upset at cheating. They just didn’t register such behavior as wrong or unexpected. (He expressed intense frustration at trying to spread the Word and the rules of the “straight and narrow” to people who saw the world like this.)

Now, I’m sure this doesn’t apply to 100.0% of all Russians. It’s a generalization and generalizations are generally unfair. But it represents a mindset that we should keep in mind when dealing with the Russians on the war and other international issues.

I’m very disappointed. I had hoped that we and the Russians would end up on the same side of the line before this was all over. But if these charges are true (and I’m more than a little skeptical) they might not be on the side of the “bad guys”, but they sure aren’t on our side.

And this generalization does not only apply to Russia, by the way.

Bitterly, bitterly disappointing.